Yankees interested in Josh Willingham
It's not just Willingham that the Bombers are checking out, but as Heyman points out there are a couple of things working in his favor. Hammer is hitting .219/.361/.421 in 57 games, including ten home runs.
Why it makes sense
At a surprising 54-50, the Yankees are just four games behind the catchable Orioles and are currently one game behind the Blue Jays for the second Wild Card spot. The team obviously needs starting pitching, but if there is a smart upgrade to make on the position player side there's no doubt they'd like to generate more offense, too.
With Jacoby Ellsbury in center, the Yankees are mostly fielding Brett Gardner (.272/.349/.419) in left and Ichiro Suzuki (.273/.324/.320) in right. Carlos Beltran (.228/.287/.427) is getting the starts at designated hitter, but - per Heyman - New York is concerned about whether or not he can stay healthy. By all accounts, Willingham is healthy and, looking at the lines of those three players, there's no doubt that he could provide New York with some extra punch.
To be honest, with the way their roster is constructed, adding yet another mid-30s veteran might be the only way that the Yankees can make one last run at a post-season. Derek Jeter is retiring after this season, and with not a lot of help on the horizon in 2015 it makes sense for Cashman and the Steinbrenners to give themselves one last shot. This organization is in serious trouble.
Why it doesn't make sense
Even with Willingham, the odds of the Yankee rotation and a batting order of has-beens making any real headway in October is close to zero. Teams lower than them in the standings would stand a better chance of winning a playoff series. And for an organization playing on borrowed time, is flipping even a marginal prospect the smart thing to do for a franchise that (regardless of its nearly inexhaustible resources) has a long and painful road to travel in terms of spending themselves out of their hole? It's an overused analogy, but the Yankees trading for Willingham is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It's still going down.
The Orioles and Kurt Suzuki
Batlimore has been using Nick Hundley and Caleb Joseph after losing Matt Wieters for the year with elbow concern. They like the pair defensively, but Suzuki would be an offensive upgrade.
Suzuki has to seem an attractive target for a number of teams in contention, not just Baltimore, but now that the Cardinals are out of the picture nobody else has yet to be publicly linked to the Minnesota backstop. Armed with a .309/.367/.392 triple slash, he would constitute and upgrade almost everywhere.
Why it makes sense
In the AL East, the Orioles know that the Yankees will do anything they can to keep their heads above water for one last chance in October. There's also a talented team in the Blue Jays, who have spent plenty of time in first place this season. If Baltimore was in the Wild Card race, they'd own the second spot and are just as catchable. Baltimore made the post-season as the Wild Card in 2012, but otherwise hasn't been there since 1997. This club needs to do whatever it can to secure a post-season appearance.
Caleb Joseph (.586 OPS) and Nick Hundley (.549 OPS) are eminently replaceable, regardless of how much Baltimore management might like their defensive games. A catcher that can actually provide value on the offensive side of the ball would give a lineup featuring a few good producers but also a couple that aren't very reliable, another option. Depth is king in a pennant chase, and Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Manny Machado need all the help they can get.
Why it doesn't make sense
The Twins won't let Suzuki walk for less than an overpay, and for as much as Baltimore needs the help I don't think ownership or the front office is desperate enough to give Minnesota what they'd ask for. Instead, the Twins will continue to try to re-sign their catcher, and because both sides want to get something done it will eventually happen.
If I had to put a number on either of these guys, I'd say that there's a 70% chance that Willingham goes by the deadline and just a 30% chance that the Twins move Suzuki. Minnesota will be content to take what they can get for the expiring contract of their aging left fielder, but because they see future value in a catcher on a career year it will be difficult to convince them it's in their best interest to part with him.
What do you think? Do you think either of these guys get flipped?