The Royals just announced that they have acquired outfielder/designated hitter Josh Willingham from the Twins in exchange for prospect right-hander Jason Adam.
Willingham, 35, is batting just .210/.345/.402 with 12 home runs and 34 RBI over 68 games this season. However, he still offers power and patience from the right side of the plate and could be useful in a part-time role down the stretch. An incremental upgrade could make a difference for the Royals, who will begin play tonight just a half-game behind the Tigers for first place in the American League Central. Willingham is owed a little under $2 million for the remainder of this season, after which he will become a free agent.
Adam, 23, has a 4.67 ERA and 89/30 K/BB ratio over 98 1/3 innings this season between Double- and Triple-A. He pitched exclusively as a starter over his first three seasons in pro ball, but he has made nine relief appearances this season, including eight since his promotion to Triple-A. Baseball America ranked him as the Royals’ No. 9 prospect over the winter.
The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.
Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.
While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.