Monday, December 12, 2011

How long will Willingham wait?

Waiting can be a tough thing to do during the holiday season?
Waiting to open gifts...
Waiting to travel...
Waiting to see family...
Or in some cases maybe just waiting for it all to be over...

The Twins are in the midst of their own holiday waiting game with their top free agent, Michael Cuddyer. During last weeks Winter Meetings, the Twins put an offer on the table for three-years and about $24 million for the first time All-Star in 2011. This was a low offer from what Cuddyer was expected to get on the open market this year. That offer was made on Tuesday and the Twins have been left in the dark as what their right-handed power bat plans to do for 2012. With Cuddyer's wife giving birth to twins in the middle of last week, there have been other pressing issues on his mind. Still, the Twins are left waiting for a response on what is supposedly their best offer.

Another figure who is left in the dark waiting is free agent outfielder Josh Willingham. It seems the Twins have been in talks with the right-handed hitter to sign with the club if Cuddyer were going to leave for another team. Many of the same teams rumored to have an interest in Cuddyer or also interested in Willingham. They are both right-handed hitting, play outfield, 32-years old, and it sounds like each player is looking for at least a three-year deal from they will sign with for next season.

Willingham is a career .262 hitter who spent all of last season hitting in the catacombs of Oakland. Even with the challenges of hitting in a giant ballpark, he still managed to smash a career high 29 home runs in 2011. By adding the extra power, Willingham posted his worst batting average for his career and he struck out a career high 150 times. On the defensive side of the ball, he has played in left field for most of his career but he does have a handful of inning in right field.

The Twins have been waiting for Cuddyer to make his decision. But for Twins fans the more important questions could be, how long will Willingham wait?

It's nice for the Twins to currently have a back-up plan if their deal with Cuddyer falls through the cracks. But what would happen if the Rockies or the Indians made a hard push for Willingham in the next couple of days? He might be waiting for Cuddyer to sign and set the market so he can pick from the remaining teams. This could also leave him as a more sought after asset as a couple of teams could be fighting over his services. The scary situation for the Twins could be that Willingham and Cuddyer both sign elsewhere. This could leave the Twins with their back-up plan to their back-up plan and that man could be Jason Kubel.

Another situation to consider is the two draft picks the Twins would receive in compensation if Cuddyer were to sign with another team. There are parts of the Twins farm system that could use a couple of nice prospects to help the organization to restock. Willingham could be a comparable alternative to Cuddyer and the team would get the draft picks as a bonus. It also sounds like Willingham would be willing to sign for less money. So in a year where the team is trying to lower their payroll, it might be in the team's best interest to save a few million by signing Willingham.

So far this offseason, there has only been one slugging right-handed bat that has come off of the market. Albert Pujols signed a huge deal with the Angels at the end of last week. Now some of the other players like Carlos Beltran, Aramis Ramirez, and Cuddyer could be in the next group to sign on the dotted line. Teams that failed to get Pujols were turn their attention to other options and this could open up new markets to players like Cuddyer. This means, the waiting game could play out in his favor especially if the Twins are not able to increase their offer to Cuddyer.

Twins fans might be sick of waiting this holiday season...

but they may have to wait a little longer for a resolution to the Cuddyer situation.

No comments: