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.
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.
With his team trailing 8-3 to begin the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Astros, Indians third baseman José Ramirez eventually won a 17-pitch at-bat against closer Ken Giles, ripping a double off of the wall in right field. The Indians would go on to score five runs on seven hits to tie the game against Giles and Hector Rondon. Ramirez almost won the game in his second at-bat of the ninth inning, but first basebamn Yuli Gurriel made a terrific diving catch on a line drive otherwise headed for the right field corner.
Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record for the longest at-bat last month, seeing 21 pitches against the Angels’ Jaime Barria. The Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez sfaw 20 pitches from the Indians’ Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, which was the previous record. Kevin Bass saw 19 pitches from the Phillies’ Steve Bedrosian in 1988. There have also been five 18-pitch at-bats from Brian Downing, Bip Roberts, Alex Cora, Adam Kennedy, and Marcus Semien.
Sunday’s game wound up going 14 innings. The Astros pulled ahead 9-8 in the top of the 13th on a solo home run from Evan Gattis. However, the Indians’ Yonder Alonso responded with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 13th to re-knot the game at 9-9. Greg Allen then lifted a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 14th to give the Indians a 10-9 win.
After Sunday’s effort, Ramirez is batting .292/.389/.605 with 15 home runs, 37 RBI, 34 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. According to FanGraphs, his 3.5 Wins Above Replacement ranks third across baseball behind Mike Trout (4.4) and Mookie Betts (4.1). They’re the only players at three wins or above.