Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Arcia's ascension could mean Willingham's exit

With the Twins up and down start to the year, it is hard to know if the team will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. Most likely the team will be selling. There will be plenty of talk about Justin Morneau being dealt in the coming months since his contract is up at the end of the year. Another important name to watch out for in the hot stove reports is Josh Willingham.

Willingham is coming off his best season as a professional and there might be more than one team looking to add a powerful corner bat for the stretch run. In a story published this weekend, the Boston Globe talked about the possibility of a Willingham trade.

According to one National League GM, "He's a powerful right-handed bat that any contender could stick right in the middle of their lineup and get outstanding production." He went on to say, "You'd have to give something up, but he'd be worth the expenditure. He can really hit."

ESPN's Rumor Central mentioned the Pirates as a possible trade fit. They need an upgrade in their outfield and they have some players in the minor leagues that could be enticing for the Twins. It also helps that Willingham has a very club friendly contract. He is in the second year of a three-year, $21 million deal.

Another wrinkle in the Willingham trade rumors is the ascension of stud prospect Oswaldo Arcia. It has been a whirlwind couple of days for Arcia. He made his MLB debut on Monday, he played for Rochester on Tuesday, and he got called back up to the big leagues after last night's game. Darin Mastroianni's injury will mean a longer look at Arcia this time around.

Arcia won't turn 22 until next month so become the youngest position player to debut with the Twins since a 20-year old Joe Mauer. He was killing the ball at Triple-A and he certainly deserved this call-up. In ten games for Rochester, he was hitting .394/.474/.727 with three home runs, two doubles, and eight runs scored.

If Arcia kept putting up those types of numbers, it would have been hard to keep him at Triple-A. The problem for the Twins could be finding him a place in the line-up. Arcia is primarily used as a corner outfielder or designated hitter. The Twins have plenty of these type of players with Willingham, Chris Parmelee, and Ryan Doumit.

It might take a trade for Arcia to stick with the club for the long-term. Morneau could be dealt to create a spot for Parmelee to move back to first base. Willingham could also be sent packing to open a hole in the outfield. Both of these men could be traded away before July and then there would be plenty of playing time for Mr. Arcia.

Things might be moving a little fast for Arcia. He started the 2012 season at the High-A level so he only played 69 games at Double-A before getting the bump to Rochester. Now he had a grand total of nine Triple-A games under his belt before he made his MLB debut.

There should be tempered expectations for Arcia as fans have seen how much Aaron Hicks has struggled in his first 10 big league games. The Twins need Arcia to be a cornerstone of the franchise as the team tries to get back to winning baseball. This might be just the first taste of what is yet to come.

Players are blocking the path of Arcia and he most likely will get more playing time at Triple-A before all is said and done. If the Twins are looking like sellers at the trade deadline, a deal including Willingham could pave the way for Arcia's permanent spot on the roster.

Willingham has done some great things in his Twins tenure but Arcia is the wave of the future.

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