UPDATE: Rays negotiating with free agent Josh Willingham

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4:10 p.m. EDT update: Crasnick is still on the Willingham beat; he reports that the Rays are making a “serious run” at the free agent. He’d presumably replace Johnny Damon as their primary designated hitter, though they could try turning him into a first baseman, and he’d likely bat cleanup behind Evan Longoria in the order.

FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal adds that the nothing is close, but that the Rays are one of the three or four finalists for Willingham.

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that nine teams have expressed interest in free agent Josh Willingham, including the Red Sox, Reds, Indians and Twins.

Willingham, who turns in 33 in February, was seeking a three-year deal at last check. He set career highs with 29 homers and 98 RBI in what was likely his lone season with the A’s in 2011, but his .810 OPS was actually his worst mark in his six years as a regular.

Willingham’s history of back problems make him a risk on a long-term deal, but he does have a more potent bat than fellow free agents Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel. A three-year deal worth about $8 million per season is realistic. He’d probably be the top candidate to step in as Boston’s primary designated hitter if David Ortiz left. The Reds would use him in left field, while the Indians could try him as a first baseman. Minnesota likely views him as a fallback option in case Cuddyer exits.

Cubs to acquire Daniel Murphy from the Nationals

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The Chicago Cubs are going to acquire Daniel Murphy from the Washington Nationals. Jon Heyman reports that the Cubs will send back prospect Andruw Monasterio and a player to be named later in exchange. Craig Mish of Sirius XM was the first to report that the Cubs were the team that claimed Murphy off of waivers.

Murphy got off to a slow start this year coming off of major surgery but is hitting .300/.341/.442 on the season and has been particularly hot of late. Murphy is primarily a second baseman, of course, but he has played some first base too. The Cubs, at any rate, have a pretty flexible roster so they’ll likely be able to find a good amount of playing time for him at either position and, when he doesn’t start, he’ll be a great option off the bench.

Between this trade and the trade of Matt Adams to the Cardinals, the Nats have officially thrown in the towel on 2018.