The Washington Nationals recently traded 2b prospect Emilio Bonifacio to the Florida Marlins for OFer Josh Willingham and SP Scott Olsen. This deal added to an already crowded OF in Washington. Washington's list of outfielders include Willingham, Lastings Milledge, Austin Kearns, Elijah Dukes, Willie Harris and Wily Mo Pena.
After the deal, some speculated that Willingham may play 1b for the Nats. There are also rumors they make a huge play for free agent 1bman Mark Teixeira. Today, MLB.com answers a reader's question about Lastings Milledge:
With the acquisition of Josh Willingham and rumors swirling about the Nats wanting Carlos Gonzalez, I can't help but notice that the team has a lot of outfielders. What do they plan on doing with all of them?
-- Pat R., Oakton, Va.
That's a good question. Most of the outfielders are corner guys and I can't help but think that at least one of them will be traded. People in and out of the organization have told me that general manager Jim Bowden would never trade Lastings Milledge, but Milledge was the only regular who ended the season healthy. I believe he could be traded unless the Nationals believe he can play center field. Milledge was OK out there.
Carlos Gonzalez? Wow. Bowden loves him some toolsy OFers, eh? Should Bowden entertain trading Milledge, I am sure there will be plenty of suitors for the talented young OFer.
In his first full big league season, Milledge hit .268-.330-.402, hitting 14 HRs, 61 RBIs, 24 SBs, and 65 runs scored. Not bad hitting in that lineup. Milledge will turn 24 in the first week of the 2009 season, and is probably the 2nd best hitter in the Nats lineup behind 3bman Ryan Zimmerman. But he has the potential to go 25-35 once he matures as a hitter.
Who are the likely suitors? I am sure each of their division rivals would have interest as all 4 teams are looking for a LFer this offseason. Could the Nats send him back home to Florida for some pitching prospects? The Nats need pitching, and the Marlins have plenty of pitching prospects in the minors, namely Sean West and Ryan Tucker. The Phillies also have some pitching prospects they could package for Milledge, including J.A. Happ and Joe Savery. How about to the Rockies for CarGo and a pitching prospect?
I would be shocked if Bowden deals Milledge, but we are talking about Jim Bowden. He may still be having nightmares for not trading Alfonso Soriano in his contract year.