ESPN's Buster Olney is reporting that the Pittsburgh Pirates have contacted the Oakland Athletics and expressed interest in outfielder Josh Willingham. The Pirates have stunned many people by sticking around the NL Central division race, which means they could be buyers at the 2011 MLB trade deadline for the first time in a long time. Offensively, the Pirates outfield could use some additional depth and they think Willingham could be the answer.
The Pirates outfield has been led by All Star Andrew McCutchen who is hitting .282/.382/.493 with 14 home runs and 15 stolen bases. He has been joined by the recent emergence of rookie Alex Presley who has a line of .328/.389/.500 in 16 games since being called up late last month. Jose Tabata had been the primary left fielder but he's been on the disabled list for the last two weeks.
Willingham hasn't put together a spectacular season but he's been the biggest slugger for the A's, leading the team with 12 home runs. He would provide the Pirates with some additional pop as he already has more home runs than all but McCutchen on the Pirates roster. It remains to be seen what the A's would get in return, but given Willingham's contract status (free agent after this season) and his lack of big numbers, I'd imagine it would be a fairly low level prospect.