Josh “Alabama Hammer” Willingham and the Nationals parted ways this afternoon as the left fielder recovering from knee surgery was sent to Oakland for two prospects. Willingham’s return to the Nationals has been doubtful for some time, with much speculation about his recovery and the arbitration hearing he’d be facing. The trade wires started buzzing around noon today, and by 3:30pm the deal was finished and Willingham was heading West for two prospects from the A’s: OF Corey Brown (late of AAA Sacramento) and RHP (and Fireballer) Henry Rodriguez.
The Nationals pick up a strong arm in their bullpen, and potentially someone to close ballgames, in Rodriguez, who went 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA in appearances with the Athletics, and currently has 5 saves and a 1.77 ERA in the Venezuelan Winter League. Meanwhile Corey Brown split last year between Midland (AA) and Sacramento (AAA) and put up a .283/.370/.466 spread between the two, with his much more impressive side showing in Midland.
Are these two the answer to some of Washington’s woes? Well, it does offload risk (in Willingham’s recovery) and it does bring in further young talent, but these are moves to secure the longterm approach, not to fix some of the glaring holes in the Nationals’ arsenal. As of yet, the Nats don’t have an everyday 1B, and are still quite lacking in starting rotation.
It’s always hard to see a talented player like Willingham leave, especially when he’s been a fan favorite. We wish Willingham well in Oakland.