Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 12/15/11
MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Twins officially announced the signing of outfielder Josh Willingham on Thursday to a three-year, 21 million contract. Willingham, 32, played 136 games for Oakland last season, his eighth year in the majors. He batted .246 with a .332 on-base percentage and set career highs in home runs (29) and RBI (98). He also spent five seasons with the Florida Marlins and two with the Washington Nationals in 2009 and 2010. He's a career .262 hitter with a .361 career OBP. Reports that the Twins and Willingham agreed to a deal first circulated Tuesday. With 21 million tied up in Willingham over the next three seasons, it likely means the Twins won't be able to afford right fielder Michael Cuddyer. The team reportedly had a three-year, 24 million offer on the table for Cuddyer, but it's now unlikely that Minnesota will re-sign Cuddyer. Both Cuddyer and Willingham will be 33 before the start of next season. Cuddyer was named to the American League All-Star team last season for the first time in his 11-year career. He finished 2011 with 20 homers, 70 RBI and a .284 average. He was one of Minnesota's most durable - and versatile - players, participating in 139 games. He and third baseman Danny Valencia were the only two players in the opening day lineup to avoid the disabled list last season. Cuddyer has played most of his career in right field but moved around the diamond a bit the past several years. When Justin Morneau suffered injuries that limited his playing time in 2009-11, Cuddyer filled in admirably for Morneau times at first base. Cuddyer also played a handful of games at second base, and even pitched one scoreless inning this year against Texas. If Cuddyer - a Type A free agent - signs with another team, Minnesota would receive two draft picks. There's a good chance the Willingham signing also means the end of Jason Kubel's time as a Twin. Kubel is a Type B free agent, meaning Minnesota would receive one draft pick if he signs elsewhere.
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