- So long, Josh Willingham. (Photo: Associated Press)
Update: 5:00 p.m. According to Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo, Rodriguez will likely be a part of the Nationals bullpen on Opening Day 2011. This is because Rodriguez is out of options (meaning he has been on a team's 40-man roster but not their active 25-man roster for part of four or more seasons) and thus cannot be sent to the minors without first clearing waivers.
Corey Brown, the other piece of the trade, is likely to start 2011 at AAA Syracuse, according to Rizzo.
Rodriguez, 23, split time between AAA and the majors in 2010, posting a 4.55 ERA with 33 strikeouts and 13 walks in 27.2 major league innings. He's considered a hard thrower with a very good fastball. The question with Rodriguez, as with most hard throwers, is control. The right-hander's strikeout-to-walk ratio was 3.44 in 21.1 innings pitched in AAA Sacramento (31 strikeouts to 9 walks), but dipped to 2.54 in 27.2 innings in the majors (33 strikeouts to 13 walks).
Brown, 25, excelled at AA in 2010, hitting .320 with a .415 on-base percentage and .502 slugging percentage in 90 games. But he struggled after being promoted to AAA, hitting .193 with a .253 on-base percentage and .378 slugging percentage in 41 games.
ORIGINAL: The Washington Nationals have agreed in principle to a deal to trade outfielder Josh Willingham to the Oakland Athletics for two players. The full terms of the deal have not been announced because physicals are pending for all three players.
Willingham had one year remaining on his contract and would likely have stood to make slightly more than the $4.6 million he earned after arbitration prior to the start of last season. Though Willingham expressed a desire to stay in Washington and sign a long-term extension, the Nationals were apparently unwilling to oblige him.
Willingham, who was traded to the Nationals from the Florida Marlins in November of 2008, played 247 of a possible 324 games in his two seasons with the Nationals, recording a .377 on-base percentage and .479 slugging percentage for a .856 OPS. He also hit 40 home runs and drove in 117 runs in his time in D.C., which was plagued by injuries. Willingham, who mostly played in left field for the Nats, missed the final 48 games of the 2010 season with a torn meniscus tendon in his left knee.
As things currently stand, the Nationals are expected to platoon Roger Bernadina and Michael Morse in left field. Willingham played left field in 195 of his 247 games in Washington, while playing another 35 in right field. Morse could also be used to play first base if the Nationals do not find a replacement for the departed Adam Dunn in the free agent market.