Nationals Scouting Double-A Erie For Potential Deal with Tigers?

I'm behind my Tigers blogging brethren on this latest trade rumbling, but with Matt Holliday now traded to the St. Louis Cardinals (and he was a longshot for Detroit, anyway), the team to zero in upon might be the Washington Nationals.  They have bats to spare, and the Tigers have a need - a need for a hitting steed.

According to MLB.com's Bill Ladson, Detroit (along with the Texas Rangers) is looking at outfielder Josh Willingham, while the Nats have been scouting the Tigers' Double-A farm team in Erie.  Adam Dunn is another player the Tigers are interested in, though he'd cost much more in terms of salary ($12 million for next season).

What are the Nationals seeking in return?  Pitching, according to Ladson.  And the Tigers have that to spare.  If you consider any prospects in the minor league system untouchable, neither of them are pitchers.  (And notice what position isn't represented on Take 75 North's list of notable players.)  Whether the Nats want starting pitching or bullpen help, the Erie Seawolves roster has several names that could provide what they're looking for.

For the season, Willingham is batting .288/.408/.553 with 13 homers and 29 RBIs.  He's also played both corner outfield spots for the Nats, and according to your fielding metric of choice, shows decent range out there.  Willingham would also be a heck of a lot cheaper, with two more arbitration-eligible seasons and whatever would remain of his $2.95 million 2009 salary.  That could make him more pricey in terms of prospects, however.

Dunn is someone many Tigers fans have been clamoring for over the past 3-4 years, imagining his 40-homer, left-handed bat launching balls out of Comerica Park.  And he's on that kind of pace again, batting .272/.402/.543 with 24 homers and 65 RBIs.  You want a cleanup hitter?  He's probably your guy. 

But he's a defensive liability, not necessarily what you want in Detroit's spacious left field.  And if he's better suited as a designated hitter, don't the Tigers already have plenty of those?  (Especially if Carlos Guillen can't play the field and can only bat left-handed right now?) 

Yet Dunn might actually be less expensive, in terms of what sorts of prospects the Tigers might have to give up.  If it meant getting rid of that $12 million for next season, the Nats might settle for a lesser talent.  (That could go the other way too, with Washington getting a better prospect in return for picking up some of Dunn's salary.)  Controlling Willingham for two more seasons at a lower cost is actually more valuable.

So which player would you prefer, as a Tigers fan?  Who do you see providing more of what this team currently doesn't have?  Is it all about this year or are future considerations part of your concern, as well?

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