In the midst of all buzz surrounding the surprising trade of Matt Holliday, the no. 1 fantasy outfielder in 2009, to the Oakland Athletics, the Washington Nationals acquired Josh Willingham and Scott Olsen from the Florida Marlins.
Emilio Bonifacio, who recently gained notoriety for being named to Ballpark Bob’s 2008 All-Name Team, is headed to Florida along with minor leaguers P.J. Dean and shortstop Jake Smolinski.
Willingham was a beast in the early part of the 2008 fantasy baseball season. On April 27, he was batting .341 with 6 homeruns, 16 RBI and 16 runs scored.
Then, he went on the DL for 58 days. By the time he returned in late June, most fantasy owners who rode his hott April had moved on to other options. No offense, but 25-homer, .250 average outfielders seem to be available at a dime/dozen. He finished the year batting .254 with 54 runs scored, 15 homeruns, 54 RBI and 3 steals in 102 games.
The Nats also acquired Scott Olsen from the Marlins. Olsen can be an attractive two-start pitcher option when the matchups are favorable. He was 4-1 as late as May 17 with a 2.82 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 60.7 innings. He went 4-9 over the rest of the season and his ERA spiked to 4.20 by late September. On the year, he logged over 200 innings and struck out 113.
Now that these guys play in Washington, will they have an increase in fantasy value? Probably not. Willingham has always been a draftable player and should continue to be drafted, but he isn’t any better than a low no. 2/no. 3 outfielder in mixed formats.
Olsen can still be useful as a two-start pitcher when the matchups are favorable, but as anything other than a week long flier, he doesn’t have much fantasy value.