Willingham gets 3-year-deal from Twins to replace Cuddyer

CBSSports.com wire reports

Willingham has strikingly similar numbers to Michael Cuddyer's over the last six seasons. (Getty Images)  
Willingham has strikingly similar numbers to Michael Cuddyer's over the last six seasons. (Getty Images)  

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins welcomed Josh Willingham to the team on Thursday, a move that opened the door for Michael Cuddyer's exit to Colorado.

Willingham agreed to a $21 million, three-year contract, giving the Twins a player with strikingly similar offensive numbers to Cuddyer's over the past six seasons.

Twins GM Terry Ryan was unavailable for comment on Thursday and the team planned to hold an introductory conference call with Willingham on Friday.

Adding Willingham, a right-handed hitting outfielder to help balance out a lefty-heavy lineup, would help ease the sting of losing Cuddyer. The 32-year-old hit .246 with a career-high 29 homers and 98 RBIs for the A's last year.

Cuddyer hit .284 with 20 homers and 70 RBIs last season, earning an All-Star bid for the first time in his 11-year career. Over the past six seaons, Cuddyer has hit .266 with 66 homers while Willingham has hit .257 with 69 home runs.

Willingham has played mostly left field throughout his career, but the Twins will likely have to move to him right field so the weak-armed Ben Revere could play left field.

Willingham will make $7 million per season for each of the next three years. If he reaches 525 plate appearances in 2013, his 2014 salary would increase to $8 million. He has only reached that plateau one time in that last four years, with Oakland Athletics last season.

The Twins were looking for more power from the right side of the plate to help balance a batting order that has lefties Denard Span, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau near the top. Willingham has topped 20 homers four times in six full major league seasons, and the hope is he will have similar success at spacious Target Field, one of the most difficult ballparks to hit it over the fence.

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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