Washington Nationals have acquired CF Corey Brown and RP Henry Rodriguez from the Oakland Athletic in exchange for LF Josh Willingham, General manager Mike Rizzo announced via press release moments ago

Overall last season, Brown, 24, hit .283/.370/.466 with 15 homers and 69 RBIs between Double and Triple A.  He stole 22 bases in 24 attempts.  He bats and throws left-handed.

Last season's Baseball Prospectus described Brown possessing "above average power and speed with the ability to play center field."  Brown had a knee injury in 2009 that hampered his development, but is said to be completely healthy.  He's prone to strikeouts, but "does enough things well that he should be able to carve out a career in spite of his flaws

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).

Rodriguez will be 24 in February.  He is
a hard-throwing right-handed reliever that went 1-0 with a 4.55 ERA and 1.373 WHIP in 27.2 IP last season with Oakland.  He struck out 10.7 per nine innings, while his K/BB rate was 2.54.  He averages 98.45 with his exploding fastball, fourth highest in the Majors last season, but has trouble throwing for strikes on occasion

Baseball America called Rodriguez "one of the hardest throwers in the game."  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.

This is a deal that if it had happened at the trade deadline last season, everyone would have been jumping for joy.  It's hard to see a dependable veteran, especially one as universally liked as Willingham, traded for two young, unproven players

But both players acquired have tremendous skill, if lacking in polish, and are the types of players Mike Rizzo wants to build around

Willingham, due a large raise in arbitration, was not one of those types of players.  While productive, the Hammer was average at best in the field and not a good runner.  This move allows Rizzo to put the faster, more athletic Roger Bernadina in left field, and gives the Nats a legitimate prospect to push Nyjer Morgan in center field, something the Nationals absolutely did not have until this trade

Rodriguez is out of options, so he will have to stay on the big league roster or be subject to waivers, so he's a certainty to make the opening day roster.  He's the prototypical big arm with control issues, but can be flat out dominating when on.  To come in as a 23-year old and strike out over 10 per nine innings is pretty impressive, and
his minor league numbers are even gaudier still.

As much as some like the how the Nats bullpen performed last season, relievers are very volatile, and several Nats bullpen guys had career years last season.  Rodriguez brings a big element to the Nats bullpen immediately, and should compete at the back end of the pen for save opportunities.