Mailbag: What about a trade for Josh Willingham?

Ken from Lindenhurst, NY sent the following e-mail: “Looking at the outfielders on the market, and considering that Sandy has expressed a need for power, Josh Willingham is a trade option I think is being overlooked by the fans. Last year he hit .260/.366/.524 with 35 home runs while playing half of his games in a pitcher’s park. He is not the best defender out there by any means, but is somewhat respectable out there. The Twins need pitching and middle infield help desperately, and I think Jeurys Familia and Jordany Valdespin alone would be enough to get him. Do you think this would work?”

Willingham, who turns 34 in February, hit .260 with 35 home runs and 110 RBI in 145 games for the Twins in 2012. He hit 21 home runs at Target Field, and 14 home runs on the road.

Willingham signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Twins before the 2012 season. He will earn $7 million in 2013 and $7 million in 2014.

Michael Baron, Contributor

Willingham seems like a strong fit, Ken. Hitting at Target Field wasn’t a problem for him last year, which means he might not have any problems hitting in the spacious dimensions of the National League East. I wouldn’t expect him to produce his 2012 numbers going forward, but he is a proven right-handed power hitter, which is something the Mets really¬†need.¬†He also has a pretty reasonable salary and is under control for only another two years – that allows the Mets more time to develop their low level outfielders and gives them flexibility and options over the short-term. As you said, he isn’t a very good defensive player, and the Mets are already dealing with an adventure with Lucas Duda in right, and so that could be a problem.

I think the Mets could conceivably deal either Familia or Jenrry Mejia under the right circumstances, but I’m not sure this is the right deal to move arms like these. Jonathan Mayo of still believes Familia is the Mets second best prospect, and we learned in September that, while his command remains a work in progress, he has all the tools to be a quality late inning reliever. It’s not to say the Mets can’t work a deal which involves other players, but I’d be hesitant to move either of these guys for Willingham.

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Phil Mackey of ESPN Radio in Minneapolis recently said the Twins could consider dealing Willingham to acquire starting pitching this winter, although one American League executive doesn’t think the Twins could command a top-of-the-rotation pitcher for him.