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 Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.