The Washington Nationals today acquired right-handed pitcher Henry Rodriguez and outfielder Corey Brown from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for left fielder Josh Willingham. Nationals Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.
Rodriguez went 1-0 with a 4.55 ERA in 29 appearances last season with Oakland in just his second season as a full-time reliever. He posted 10.7 strikeouts per 9.0 innings (33 K/27.2 IP) and a .240 batting average against, including a stingy .207 mark against right-handed batters. Rodriguez recorded 11 saves and a 1.69 ERA in 20 appearances with Sacramento of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 2010, posting 13.1 strikeouts per 9.0 innings (31 K/21.1 IP) and a 3.44 strikeout-to-walk ratio (31 K/9 BB) with the River Cats.
The hard-throwing right-hander ranked fourth in the big leagues last season with an average fastball velocity of 98.45 miles per hour, after his 98.96 mph average in 2009 trailed only Detroit’s Joel Zumaya (99.19 mph). Rodriguez touched 103.2 mph on the gun in 2010, a high that was topped only by Cincinnati’s Aroldis Chapman (105.1 mph) and Texas’ Neftali Feliz (103.4 mph).
Rodriguez, 23, is 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA in 32 career relief appearances in the major leagues. A member of the World Team in the 2008 All-Star Futures Game at Yankee Stadium, he is currently pitching for Leones in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he has five saves and a 1.77 ERA (27 K/20.1 IP) in 17 appearances.
Brown batted .283 with 18 doubles, 11 triples, 15 home runs, 69 RBI and 22 stolen bases in 131 games last season with Midland of the Double-A Texas League and Sacramento. He earned citations as a Texas League All-Star and Topps Double-A All-Star for his 90 games with Midland. Brown batted .320 with 14 doubles, eight triples, 10 homers, 49 RBI, 19 stolen bases and a .415 on-base percentage with the RockHounds, ranking among Double-A leaders for on-base percentage (third), batting average (fifth) and triples (tied for eighth).
Brown dominated the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League in 2009, hitting .333 and finishing among AFL leaders with 28 RBI (first), six home runs (tied for second), 65 total bases (second), 15 extra-base hits (tied for third) and 35 hits (fourth).
Selected by Oakland in the compensation round (59th overall) of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, the 25-year-old has batted .272 with 83 doubles, 21 triples, 65 home runs, 243 RBI and 48 stolen bases in 390 games over four minor-league seasons.
Willingham, 31, batted .268 with 16 home runs and 56 RBI in 114 games last season with the Nationals.