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Twins trade Josh Willingham to Royals

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It was expected that the Twins would try to trade Willingham this month. It wasn't necessarily expected that he'd be how Joe Mauer got his roster spot back.

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

The trade of Josh Willingham to the Royals comes as something of a whimper. He had a career year in his first year with the Twins in 2012, hitting .260/.366/.524 with 35 home runs. It was his age-33 season, and as such some fans hoped the team would flip him at a high water mark in the hope of aiding in what was, quite obviously, a massive rebuilding process. It didn't happen, and it's hard to blame the Twins too much.

Except then Willingham's career began to circle the drain. Injuries wiped out his 2013, giving him his worst season since becoming a full-time player in 2005. Minnesota couldn't move him at that point for any number of reasons. This year, in spite of another fairly lengthy spell on the disabled list early in the season that cost him 41 games, we saw his numbers rebound a little. It's worth noting that he would be on pace for 29 home runs in a 162-game season.

Willingham's final hit as Twin was a home run, which is quite fitting. His two-run shot yesterday, his 12th of the year, put Minnesota up 4-1. He popped up in his final plate appearance. The Royals claimed him on revocable waivers, which is why I'm assuming Terry Ryan and crew got as much as they did in return for him: if they didn't get something they liked, they'd just revoke their waiver request and try again. If Dayton Moore thought this was the best he could do for his offense, then no doubt he wanted to try to accommodate Ryan.

In Kansas City, Willingham will presumably play a little bit of corner outfield (right field has been a bit of a black hole for the Royals) and take some of the designated hitter duties off the hands of Raul Ibanez and whatever other zombie had been playing there since Billy Butler moved to first. As faded as Willingham is, he's still a better option than what Ned Yost currently has available.

Jason Adam is the player coming back to the Twins. A 23-year old (as of last week) right-hander who was ranked Kansas City's number nine overall prospect coming into 2014 by Baseball America, Adam had been moved out of the rotation and into the bullpen when he was promoted from Double to Triple-A. In spite of decent strikeout rates and command, he was giving up too many hits. Kansas City decided to try him in the bullpen, and while it hasn't paid dividends in hit rates in a small sample size, limiting his exposure has meant Adam has been a more effective pitcher.

Adam was not on Kansas City's 40-man roster, which means he will not be added to Minnesota's either. As a result, the Twins now have two open spots on their 40-man.

It's also worth noting that the Twins needed a spot on the 25-man roster in order to activate Joe Mauer, which this move provides. We'll see if the team will still put Oswaldo Arcia on the disabled list.