Josh Willingham is untouchable? Really?

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Jeff Fletcher of AOL Fanhouse cites a source as saying the Nationals were shopping Josh Willingham two weeks ago, but now he is “untouchable.”

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Yes. Stick with me — the same guy who the Nats wouldn’t give more than
a sniff of playing time just a month ago. Sure, Willingham has been
incredible in July, batting .329/.423/.683 with seven homers and 23
RBI, including two grand slams against the Brewers on Monday, but isn’t
this a perfect opportunity to sell high? Under team control for two
more seasons, Willingham might be the best trade chip the Nationals
currently have on their roster, especially when you compare him to an
impending free agent like Nick Johnson. Now 30 years old, Willingham
doesn’t figure to be around when (if?) the Nationals are ready to
compete.

You hate to say this, but perhaps Willingham is motivated to play well right now because he actually wants
to get traded to a contender? You know, a real light at the end of tunnel
sort of scenario. If we’ve entered a world where Josh Willingham is
untouchable, then give Jeff Francoeur a contract extension.

Twins designate Phil Hughes for assignment

AP Photo/Ron Schwane
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Phil Hughes was officially designated for assignment by the Twins on Tuesday, the culmination of multiple injury-plagued seasons and poor performance.

Things couldn’t have started out much better for Hughes in Minnesota. The former Yankees hurler joined the Twins on a three-year, $24 million contract in December of 2013 and reeled off a 3.52 ERA over 32 starts during his first season with the club. He set the MLB record (which still stands, by the way) for single season strikeout-to-walk ratio and even received some downballot Cy Young Award consideration. The big year resulted in the two sides ripping up their previous agreement with a new five-year, $58 million deal, but it was all downhill after that.

Hughes took a step back with a 4.40 ERA in 2015 and struggled with a 5.95 ERA over 11 starts and one relief appearance in 2016 before undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. He wasn’t any better upon his return last year, putting up a 5.87 ERA in nine starts and five relief appearances. Hughes missed time with a biceps issue and required a thoracic outlet revision surgery in August. He began this year on the disabled list with an oblique injury, only to put up a 6.75 ERA over two starts and five relief appearances before the Twins decided to turn the page this week.

Hughes is still owed the remainder of his $13.2 million salary for this year and another $13.2 million next year. The deal didn’t work out as anyone would have hoped, but unfortunately this is another case of health just not cooperating.