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Nationals Relucant to Trade Willingham

12.07.09 at 2:20 pm ET

The Red Sox have long been rumored to have interest in outfielder Josh Willingham, a corner outfielder who exhibits both power and patience. If the team does not sign either Jason Bay or Matt Holliday in free agency, Willingham — who hit .260 with a .367 OBP, .863 OPS, 24 homers and 61 RBIs in 133 games last year for the Nationals, could be an intriguing target.

Even so, Nationals manager Jim Riggelman made clear that Washington is far from eager to move the 30-year-old, who won’t be available in free agency until after the 2012 season.

“He’s not just a good player, he’s a great person,” said Riggelman. “Tough guy. All man. … He’s big in our lineup. When you have a guy like him, he fits a lot of teams’ needs. We don’t have any desire to move Willingham — believe me. But he’s a guy a lot of teams call about, because he doesn’t have an exorbitant salary ($2.95 million in 2009). … Teams are going to be interested in him. My guess is that he’ll be our left fielder. Again, if between now and opening day a team overwhelms us, you’d have to listen.”

Riggelman did say that he planned to give Willingham more rest next season. The outfielder wore down in the later phases of the season. After he hit .307/.415/.588/1.003 through Aug. 18, he hit .153/.253/.290/.543 over his last 38 games.

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