CHICAGO, IL - Starting pitcher Dontrelle Willis #50 of the Cincinnati Reds delivers the ball against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Phillies picked up some low-cost, high-upside depth by signing Dontrelle Willis to a one-year contract.
If you're an enterprising young starting pitcher on the comeback trail, and your eventual goal is to reach the majors, you should probably send the Phillies' calls straight to voicemail. Dontrelle Willis came back from the outer reaches of organized baseball to have a pretty nice year in AAA. He wasn't exactly good with the Reds in 13 major-league starts, but he wasn't the same kind of wild that led to his being kicked around baseball.
The Phillies reportedly signed Willis to a one-year deal for $1 million (and performance bonuses). If he's looking to crack the rotation, he would compete with Joe Blanton for the fifth spot in the rotation.
If the Phillies are thinking about converting Willis to a left-handed specialist, they might be on to something:
There are times when you look at career splits and have trouble discerning what is real and what is statistical noise. I'd like to think that this is not one of those times. Even last year, when Willis wasn't at his sharpest, he held lefties to a .127/.169/.200 line over 55 at-bats.
However they use Willis, he's making just twice the major-league minimum, so he's a relative bargain, and he'll be around to provide depth after Cliff Lee is removed from the rotation with an 12.29 ERA in July. Which probably isn't going to happen. But Willis can secretly dream about that, right? Braves fans can, at least.