Pirates Evaluating Josh Willingham

We’ve heard in the last few days that the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking at veteran outfielders, although no names have been brought up.  Today, Buster Olney reports that the Pirates are evaluating outfielder Josh Willingham, and that they’ve been in contact with the Oakland Athletics.

Willingham is currently hitting for a .247/.322/.439 line in Oakland, with 12 homers.  Oakland is known to have a pitcher friendly park, although Willingham has been better at home this year, with an .802 OPS, compared to a .735 OPS on the road.  In his career, Willingham has a .263/.362/.471 line.  He’s not good defensively, with a -16.3 UZR/150 in left field this year, and a -4.9 UZR/150 in left field for his career.

Willingham is a free agent after the season, and qualifies as a Type B free agent, if the Pirates, or any team, decided to tender him an arbitration offer.  With his current production, and his $6 M salary, he holds a trade value of around $3 M, although the majority of that is based on his Type B status.  Since his $6 M salary is kind of high for the production he’s putting up, he might not be a guarantee to receive a compensation offer, as his arbitration price would be too high.  He’s owed a little under $2.5 M for the remainder of the season, and could be had for a marginal prospect if the Type B status doesn’t factor in to the equation.

He would provide a nice power bat in the lineup, although there are some downsides.  His walk rate hasn’t been as high this year, and normally that counteracts his low average.  He also struggles on defense, which really lowers his overall value.  I personally would rather see Alex Presley getting a shot, rather than Willingham.  Sure, Presley won’t have the same power, but he has better defense, and has speed, which is something Willingham doesn’t have.  Willingham seems more like a strong bench player as a fourth outfielder.  If the Pirates are looking at him, hopefully it’s in that role, and not as a replacement for a young guy like Presley.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Anonymous

    I’m with you on this one. Would rather see Presley out there at this point than Willingham. He’s in the midst of his worst season of his career and his low OBP this year just seems odd.

    ZIPS projects a .344 OBP for the remainder of the season, but unless he can be had for basically nothing, no thanks.

  • Anonymous

    I’m with you on this one. Would rather see Presley out there at this point than Willingham. He’s in the midst of his worst season of his career and his low OBP this year just seems odd.

    ZIPS projects a .344 OBP for the remainder of the season, but unless he can be had for basically nothing, no thanks.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see where he’s an upgrade over anyone but Diaz. Once Tabata comes back, either Presley goes back to AAA, or someone gets cut. The most likely candidate is Xavier Paul, but I’m hoping it’s Diaz. I just don’t see an outfielder as an upgrade unless you’re going for a bigger name or better player. Willingham just don’t seem like an upgrade.

  • http://twitter.com/Jcsteel Jimmy Cali

    I like Presley but I’m not sold on him being an every day player yet.  Problem is the Pirates really don’t have a leadoff hitter without him in the lineup.  

    And I’m not sure there’s a difference between Willingham and Diaz at this point.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OGCKUSO5MA5VUCJHW2YSJ2K3TM Bob

    I don’t see how this move would help us at all.  He’s only an upgrade over Diaz and Paul…and he’s not even that much of an upgrade, only from the power perspective is he better.  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KAH4DKCURJYHBMKZIAASB6DP44 VincentR

    I don’t like the idea either even they get him for a bag of balls. I don’t see how he helps.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AGRPLJJRC5GNBYXDY6LHF2U6DU white angus

    shame they dont have time to teach Willingham first base.  or do they?

  • http://twitter.com/AvoidLloyd95 Mike Adamson

    I was hoping for impact player if a trade was going to happen. Willingham provides power but isn’t what I call an impact player. Either, Kemp, Wright, or Pence. Trade for a good bat and sign him long term.  Any of those names would sound good in the 3 through 5. Would Willingham?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OGCKUSO5MA5VUCJHW2YSJ2K3TM Bob

      Nope.  But let’s face it, we aren’t going to get Kemp, Wright or Pence unless we give up the future.  And even if we did get them it’s no guarantee that we win the division.  

      • http://twitter.com/AvoidLloyd95 Mike Adamson

        The Dodgers and Mets are in financial trouble like the Pirates were when they traded Ramirez. If you think its hard to land a backup catcher because teams no you need a catcher then don’t you think it’s going to be hard for the Dodgers and Mets to get top prospects?

        I’m no GM but I think a trade can happen without unloading Tallion, Heredia, Alvarez, or Marte.  The guys I can see being dealt – Gorky Hernandez, Karstens, Lincoln, Wilson, Owens, Locke, a number other pitching prospects. Even Tabata if you are getting a guy for multiple years.

  • http://twitter.com/Jcsteel Jimmy Cali

    While I’d love Kemp, I’m not sure we have the talent in the minors yet to afford to go get him without giving up Tailion.  can’t do that right now.

  • http://twitter.com/jasonfaust jason

    well kemp will cost u guys tallion n another prospect, u really want to go that way, willingham hit the dl this year missed almost a month and plays in the worst park, he doesnt have any protection , factor all this in the guy would probably have 18 bombs batting 270 if he played in a good lineup in a hitters park…  diaz n nady have done nothing close to what josh has done in his career… he would be a great piece in the pirates lineup..