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.
So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.
The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.
Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.
Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.
With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.