The stove is getting warm in advance of the start of free agency on Friday. Earlier today we got word that Matt Holliday is heading to Oakland for a bevy of players, and now two NL East clubs have cooked up a deal. The Marlins sent starting pitcher Scott Olsen and outfielder Josh Willingham to the Nats for second baseman Emilio Bonifacio and two minor-leaguers.
On the surface, it looks like a steal for Washington. Olsen threw 200 league average innings in 2008, bouncing back from a weak 2007 season. That doesn't sound like much, but such pitchers command a hefty sum on the open market and the Nats had just one pitcher who could boast such results. Olsen's also just 24 and is a lefty, two more points that make him an intriguing pick-up for a pitching starved team.
Willingham will fit in somewhere in the corner outfield/first base mix for the Nats. He's no great shakes, but gives the Nats an alternative to the atrocious Willy Mo Pena/Austin Kearns duo as well as a replacement for Nick Johnson's injury du jour in 2009.
It should be noted that Olsen has had some behavioral issues in the past, which should make him and Elijah Dukes fast friends in the Washingon clubhouse, dawg. That may have brought his value down, as it's otherwise hard to see why the Marlins gave him up for so little.
Well, not that hard, actually. Olsen's arbitration eligible and is about to start making money. So is Willingham, which explains part of why Florida would give them up for a pretty lackluster trio of players. Bonifacio was once a prospect but there's not much evidence he'll ever hit enough to hold down a job as a major league regular. The minor leaguers, righty pitcher P.J. Dean and outfielder Jake Smolinski, were in A-ball last season and are a ways away from helping the big club.
Money matters have long been the focus of the Marlin franchise. With almost half their roster hitting arbitration this offseason some moves were guaranteed, but they could have gotten players more likely to help them in 2009. Especially Olsen, a player coveted by Texas which has a plethora of catchers who could have stepped in and started for the Marlins next season.
Marlins Trade Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham to Washington originally appeared on MLB FanHouse on Mon, 10 Nov 2008 22:00:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.