Whatever slim chance the Twins had of getting something decent in return for Josh Willingham before the July 31 trade deadline is gone, as he’ll miss 4-6 weeks following knee surgery.
As of yesterday afternoon Willingham and the Twins were saying he was optimistic about avoiding surgery and returning from the disabled list in the minimum 15 days. Of course, that came after the Twins let Willingham limp around on what was clearly a bum knee for several weeks, continuing what has now been a three-year pattern of odd injury handling in Minnesota.
Willingham’s injury means the Twins will likely go with Oswaldo Arcia as their everyday left fielder, leaving Chris Parmelee in right field and opening up designated hitter for Ryan Doumit (and occasionally Joe Mauer). Willingham has struggled all season, hitting just .224 with a .398 slugging percentage following a career-year at age 33 in 2012 that had many people wondering if the Twins should trade him at the peak of his value. He’s under contract for $7 million next season.
Right-hander Michael Fulmer is going on the 10-day disabled list with a left oblique strain, the Tigers announced Friday. In a corresponding move, right-hander Victor Alcantara was recalled from Triple-A Toledo.
Fulmer, 25, apparently suffered the injury during a routine bullpen session on Friday. A formal timeline for his recovery has not been announced yet. The righty is 3-9 in 19 starts this year with a 4.50 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 through 112 innings pitched. This is his first real setback of 2018 and figures to delay any potential trade discussions the Tigers might have been entertaining for Fulmer’s services.
Alcantara, meanwhile, will fill the open roster spot while Fulmer works his way back to the rotation. The 25-year-old righty is expected to help boost a bullpen that currently ranks fourth-worst in the American League with a collective 4.45 ERA and 1.0 fWAR. While Alcantara hasn’t done much at the major-league level so far — he tossed a scoreless three innings in relief during his last call-up — he maintained an impressive 2.81 ERA, 1.2 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 through 51 1/3 innings in Triple-A this year.