The Yankees may actually prefer Willingham to Marlon Byrd or Alex Rios, perhaps partly because of Willingham's reasonable $7 million salary and status as a free agent after the season, though Byrd and Rios haven't been ruled out. Rios makes $12 million, with a $2 million buyout of a $14 million team option, and Byrd has an $8 million salary next year. Byrd's deal does not seem overly high considering his solid production the past two years, but there may be some concern about his fit in the Bronx.
While Willingham is batting .215, he has 10 home runs in only 56 games and a .777 OPS. He has always showed good power despite playing in pitchers parks, such as Target Field, and before that Oakland Coliseum and Pro Player Stadium, the football stadium the Marlins played in before moving to Marlins Park.
Willingham, 35, missed 41 games earlier this year because of a fractured wrist, but seems to be healthy now.
The Yankees are known to be seeking rotation help after losing four of its original five starters, but the offense has been disappointing, sparky interest in a bat. Ichiro Suzuki, 40, wasn't supposed to be playing every day, and as we know from the leaks of the Astros' notes, the Yankees had been trying to trade him previously. Suzuki wasn't the choice of GM Brian Cashman, and was instead an ownership call from the start.
The Yankees might have some concerns about the ability of Carlos Beltran to hold up, as well.