Josh Willingham and the Twins went oddly silent after news broke earlier this week that he’d agreed to terms on a three-year, $21 million contract, leading to speculation that Michael Cuddyer may have had second thoughts about leaving Minnesota.
I’m still not sure what the lengthy delay and secrecy was about, but the Twins have finally announced the signing officially after Willingham passed a physical exam.
Willingham will get $7 million in each of 2012, 2013, and 2014, but can add another $1 million to his 2014 salary by logging at least 525 plate appearances in 2013.
Now that Willingham to the Twins is official Cuddyer seems likely to sign with the Rockies, although the Mariners and Reds are among several other teams to express interest. He had a three-year, $25 million offer on the table from Minnesota, but went more than a week without giving them an answer to seemingly indicate he wanted to move after spending his entire career with the Twins.
And ultimately the Twins are probably better off with Willingham, a pair of draft picks, and some extra cash.
Free agent outfielder Michael Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals, the team announced Friday. While the move comes just two days after Saunders agreed to terms with the Pirates, he allegedly asked for his release after the club acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson in a multi-player swap with the Rays on Thursday.
After earning his first spot on an All-Star team in 2016, Saunders followed up a solid campaign with a career-worst performance in 2017. The 31-year-old split the season between the Phillies and Blue Jays’ camps, batting a combined .202/.256/.344 with six home runs and -0.7 fWAR in 234 plate appearances. Although he remained healthy throughout the year, with no sign of the lingering hamstring strain that has plagued him on and off since 2013, he wasn’t productive enough to merit a full-time role on either roster.
With Dickerson slated for a starting role in Pittsburgh, it was unlikely that Saunders would have commanded anything other than a backup role in 2018. Now, however, he’ll compete for playing time amid a slew of outfield options, including Alex Gordon, Cody Asche, Jorge Bonifacio, Tyler Collins and Paulo Orlando.