The Phillies have signed lefty pitcher Dontrelle Willis to a one-year contract reportedly worth $1 million plus incentives. The well-traveled veteran has pitched with the Marlins, D-Backs, Tigers and most recently the Reds.
Early in his career, Willis used his tricky delivery and fierce velocity to rack up solid strike out totals that have dwindled in recent years along with his electric speed.
A former Rookie of the Year Award winner (2003), Willis also finished second in National League Cy Young Award voting in 2005 when he finished the year with a 22-10 record and a 2.63 ERA.
The signing of the two-time All-Star is certainly a risk worth taking, as Willis still has the tools that can make him a key contributor, especially as a situational left-hander out of the bullpen. Having appeared almost exclusively as a starter in his big league career, Willis’ effectiveness at this stage of his career might be better in a role where he is used in shorter stints.
A strength of Willis has continued to be his ability to mow down left-handed hitting opposition. In 2011, Willis held major league lefty hitters to a .127 batting average.
In addition, last season with the Triple-A affiliate of the Reds, Louisville, Willis posted a 5-2 record with a 2.63 ERA in 13 starts.
Willis will turn 30 years old in January. He was originally selected by Florida in the 8th round of the 2000 amateurs draft.
Perhaps it is worth mentioning that Willis is a life-long friend of free agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Through their careers, the two individuals have had a friendly rivalry, especially when Willis pitched for the division rival Marlins while Rollins has spent his entire playing career with the Phillies thus far. Could a chance to be paired with his close pal be a little extra incentive for Rollins to return to Philadelphia? We'll see...
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