Willingham is a 34-year old who has primarily been a left fielder in his career. He is signed through 2014 to a contract that will pay him $7 million next season. Across ten major league seasons, he has a batting line of .257/.360/.475 and has been consistent against both left- and right-handed pitchers. He is a right-handed hitter with a career OPS of .825 against righties and .863 against lefties.
From 2006-2012, he had an OPS of over .800 each season. That's every year that he was a full-time player up until this year. The problem for Willingham and about him is that this is the first season where he is below that. Willingham is putting up a .212/.343/.386 slash line in 89 games this season. He missed all of July with an injury and he has had a sub-.700 OPS every month he played since April.
The injury that caused him to miss such significant time was a torn meniscus, for which he had surgery, but a .676 August OPS suggests that all is not immediately well.
Given his consistency in his platoon splits in his career, he could be a good player to pencil in as a full-time designated hitter, if he was able to hit at something approaching his career numbers. Even if he declines somewhat as a result of being 35 years old, there is a lot of room to improve over what the Orioles have trotted out this season - and Willingham would only take up one roster spot, meaning the O's could platoon at a different position where it would be more advantageous.
However, with his numbers this season, there is the question of how much use he would be for the remainder of the year. The O's have their fair share of poor designated hitters already, and every time we say that someone has to be better than what they've already used, this proves not to be the case. It may continue to happen with Wilson Betemit.
Even if he comes back with a healthy knee in 2014, would he be worth the salary he's slated to earn in addition to whatever prospect the Orioles might have to give up to acquire him? In that case, the answer is probably yes, but there's no guarantee that he would be healthy or stay healthy.
As with most trade rumors, there is the strong likelihood that this one will amount to nothing, but it's been some time since the Orioles were linked to a specific name like this, and the deadline for potential postseason roster eligibility is close upon us.
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