Regardless of how we may have felt about the possibility of Josh Willingham being traded, there wasn't a lot of shock involved in the news that the Twins had pulled him back off of waivers. The general consensus from the fan base was that a trade wouldn't go down. Which is, of course, exactly what happened.
It looks like we had it wrong. The trade didn't go down, but not for a lackluster effort on behalf of the Minnesota front office. Turns out, the Orioles just weren't as desperate as they might have been. The Twins asked for 20-year old left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, and that price was too rich for Baltimore's blood.
Rodiguez isn't listed on Baseball America's Top 100 prospects list, but MLB.com lists him as the game's 86th best prospect. Both sites list him in Baltimore's own Top 10: BA ranks him fifth, while MLB.com third. MLB.com also has him ranked as the seventh best left-handed prospect in baseball.
Baltimore is certainly justified in not wanting to pay such a price for Willingham, but full credit is due to the front office for attempting to get the most out of the situation. Rebuilding and contending teams can often swing win-win trades in these scenarios, provided both parties are willing to pull the trigger. Perhaps the Twins gambled too much on the Orioles' desire to win this season, on their desperation to improve their roster with only hours remaining before the waiver trade deadline. And it's possible that the trade could have worked, had Mike Morse not been available.
The price for Morse was Baltimore's Xavier Avery, who was listed by MLB.com to be Baltimore's #10 prospect and BA's #7 prospect. It was a lesser price to pay, and in contrast to Rodriguez (who is having a pretty good season), Avery has struggled at Triple-A at age 23. In short: Avery is older, a lower ranked prospect, and having a less impressive summer.
It's good to hear that the Twins were using the season's landscape and their own position as a strength in this scenario. While it didn't work out, Minnesota didn't undervalue their bargaining position and as a result, Willingham will have the opportunity to rebuild his trade value with next season.
Provided he doesn't get dealt over the winter. Happy Saturday!