October 31, 2011 at 11:06 am by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves
This will be the fourth consecutive offseason that I have pushed for the Braves to acquire Josh Willingham, as I noted here at my old blog in May of 2010. Even last year as Willingham was a pending free agent, before the Braves traded for Dan Uggla, he would have been a near perfect fit on a one-year $6m type deal that he signed with Oakland.
Acquiring Willingham will likely cost a bit more this year and probably an additional year on top of the additional money, but he is still a near ideal candidate. Willingham owns a career .862 OPS against left-handed pitching, and has been extremely consistent at the plate in his Major League tenure.
Willingham wRC+ by year
You will get solid offense from the right side of the plate, with relatively little variation when compared to his peers. Willingham is the stereotypical left fielder, which is something the Braves have lacked for the better part of the last decade.
The glove is bad and he has not played more than 133 games since 2007, which are both concerns. Those factors included, a two-year deal in the $15-17m range makes a lot of sense. Willingham’s price could be driven up due to the barren corner outfield market, but I expect him to receive a contract in that range and the Braves can afford that if they move a starter. Right now Willingham should be target A for the Braves, but that has been the case for the past few seasons, in my opinion. This winter the Braves will probably put more emphasis on signing him, but he is not a guarantee for the Atlanta outfield just yet.