The Royals just announced that they have acquired outfielder/designated hitter Josh Willingham from the Twins in exchange for prospect right-hander Jason Adam.
Willingham, 35, is batting just .210/.345/.402 with 12 home runs and 34 RBI over 68 games this season. However, he still offers power and patience from the right side of the plate and could be useful in a part-time role down the stretch. An incremental upgrade could make a difference for the Royals, who will begin play tonight just a half-game behind the Tigers for first place in the American League Central. Willingham is owed a little under $2 million for the remainder of this season, after which he will become a free agent.
Adam, 23, has a 4.67 ERA and 89/30 K/BB ratio over 98 1/3 innings this season between Double- and Triple-A. He pitched exclusively as a starter over his first three seasons in pro ball, but he has made nine relief appearances this season, including eight since his promotion to Triple-A. Baseball America ranked him as the Royals’ No. 9 prospect over the winter.
The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.
Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.
Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.