A’s get Josh Willingham from Nationals for two minor leaguers

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UPDATE: Buster Olney of ESPN.com says it’s a done deal, pending physical exams.

UPDATE #2: Rosenthal says the minor leaguers are reliever Henry Rodriguez and outfielder Corey Brown. Neither are considered top prospects, but Rodriguez has a high-90s fastball and big-time strikeout totals in the minors. It’s a pretty good haul for Willingham.

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Earlier this week Oakland signed Hideki Matsui to replace Jack Cust as designated hitter and now Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the A’s “are in serious discussions to obtain” Josh Willingham from the Nationals for “two minor leaguers.”

Rosenthal writes that Willingham would play primarily left field for the A’s, who would be taking a big hit defensively in order to add his right-handed bat to the lineup.

Willingham batted .268/.389/.459 with 16 homers in 114 games for the Nationals before undergoing knee surgery in mid-August, basically matching his career averages, and is set to earn about $6 million or so in his final season of arbitration eligibility.

Washington has been linked to nearly every free agent first baseman, so the fact that they’re aggressively shopping Willingham is no surprise, but it’s odd that the Nationals apparently have zero interest in simply playing Willingham at first base. He played there some in the minors and is as good offensively as any free agent they’ll be able to sign, but it’s seemingly never be an option.

Cubs acquire Jesse Chavez from Rangers

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The Cubs announced on Thursday evening that the club acquired pitcher Jesse Chavez from the Rangers in exchange for minor league pitcher Tyler Thomas.

Chavez, 34, has pitched out of the bullpen for the Rangers this season, compiling a 3.51 ERA with 50 strikeouts and 12 walks across 56 1/3 innings. The veteran right-hander inked a one-year, $1 million deal with the Rangers in February, so the Cubs are on the hook for the prorated remainder — a little less than $600,000.

Thomas, 22, was selected by the Cubs in the seventh round of the 2017 draft. The lefty has made 14 starts and one relief appearance for Single-A South Bend, putting up a 2.88 ERA with an 81/14 K/BB ratio in 75 innings.