Dontrelle Willis Rumors

NL Central Notes: Gonzalez, Wainwright, Willis, Bucs

It was on this day in 1986 that Rollie Fingers chose his mustache over the Reds.  The veteran closer was offered a Spring Training invite by the Reds on the condition that Fingers shave his famous handlebar in order to meet with the team's facial hair policies.  Fingers turned the deal down and instead retired, ending his 17-year Major League career and paving the way for his eventual induction into the Hall of Fame. 

Here's the latest from around the NL Central…

  • The Cardinals exchanged figures with Alex Gonzalez this offseason but couldn't come to terms, and the veteran shortstop instead signed with the Brewers, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports.  The Cards' best offer was a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $1MM plus another $1MM if Gonzalez made the roster, which couldn't top Gonzalez's deal with Milwaukee.  A dozen teams scouted Gonzalez's offseason workout sessions, with the Red Sox and Dodgers showing particular interest in the 36-year-old.
  • Steve Hammond, Adam Wainwright's agent, is out of the country for the next 10 days so there won't be any immediate extension talks between Wainwright and the Cardinals, B.J. Rains of St. Louis 1380 AM Radio reports (via Twitter).  We heard on Monday that both sides were keeping the lines of communication open about a new contract for the ace right-hander.
  • Dontrelle Willis talks to CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney about his career, his short-lived retirement, his controversial exit from the Orioles organization and his return to the Cubs on a minor league contract.
  • The Pirates are desperate for success but ESPN's Buster Olney notes that the team must weigh the short-term benefit of a winning season against the long-term costs (both developmentally and financially) of calling up young starters Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole.  MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith noted earlier today that the Pirates could prevent Cole from gaining Super Two eligibility by delaying his callup until mid-June.

Cubs Sign Dontrelle Willis

The Cubs have signed Dontrelle Willis according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter links). The left-hander officially gets an invitation to minor league Spring Training, but could get a look in big league camp if he's throwing well. The 2003 NL Rookie of the Year is a Sosnick/Cobbe client.

Willis, 31 later this month, retired from baseball back in July. He allowed eight runs in 6 1/3 innings with the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate early last season before calling it quits. Willis last appeared in the big leagues with the Reds in 2011, when he pitched to a 5.00 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 75 2/3 innings across 13 starts.

Willis started his professional career with the Cubs, who drafted him in the eighth round of the 2000 draft. Chicago traded him to the Marlins as part of the package for Matt Clement and Antonio Alfonseca two years later.


Minor Moves: Lin, Del Rosario, Thompson, Cubs

Here are some of the minor transactions from around the league…



Dontrelle Willis To Retire

3:50pm: The Orioles confirmed that Willis is retiring, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.

2:36pm: Pitcher Dontrelle Willis is considering retirement and is not expected to make next start for the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter).  The left-hander has been in the O’s system since signing a minor league deal in March.

Willis was placed on the restricted list by Baltimore in late April after a difference of opinions between him and the organization.  The 30-year-old left Triple-A Norfolk believing that he was going to be granted his release but instead was placed on the restricted list because GM Dan Duquette did not authorize the move.  Willis planned on filing a grievance against the Orioles but instead returned to the club’s farm system.

The southpaw wound up making just three relief appearances and one start for Triple-A Norfolk after all was said and done. Willis originally signed a one-year, $1MM deal with the Phillies in December of last year but was released in March.

Willis owns a career 4.17 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 for his career and has earned nearly $41MM over the course of his career, according to Baseball-Reference.  The pitcher known as D-Train burst on to the scene as a 21-year-old with the Marlins and captured the National League Rookie of the Year award with a brilliant campaign.  Two years later, Willis finished second in Cy Young voting to Chris Carpenter, posting 2.63 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9.


Latest On Orioles, Dontrelle Willis

May 15th: The Orioles removed Willis from the restricted list and assigned him to Class A, the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate announced (Twitter link).

May 9th: Willis has agreed to drop his grievance, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reports. The Orioles will allow him to start in the minor leagues once he builds up arm strength at extended Spring Training.

April 24th: Left-hander Dontrelle Willis will file a grievance against the Orioles following the club's decision to place him on the restricted list, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reports. Willis recently left the Orioles' Triple-A team after a disagreement about his role in the organization.

Orioles executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette told CBSSports.com yesterday that Willis left Triple-A Norfolk without permission, but the pitcher's agent, Matt Sosnick, says Willis did obtain permission from the Orioles to leave. Willis can't sign with another club while on the restricted list, so Willis and Sosnick are frustrated.

"We're talking about a minor league player that Baltimore has relatively no financial investment in whatsoever," Sosnick told Crasnick. "It's the dumbest thing ever and a waste of everybody's time. Dan [Duquette] has had a thousand chances to ratchet this down a notch, and all he's done is ratchet it up."

Duquette told Jon Heyman yesterday that he hopes Willis will return and pitch effectively out of the bullpen. However, it sounds as though Willis would prefer to move on.


Quick Hits: Willis, Pudge, Lopez, Alvarez

As if the Phillies didn't already have enough stars on the disabled list, Hunter Pence missed Monday's game due to a shoulder injury suffered diving for a ball Sunday against the Padres.  The extent of the injury is yet unknown and Pence is considered day-to-day for the time being.

Some news from Monday in the Major Leagues…

  • Dontrelle Willis talks to MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko about the situation that resulted in Willis being placed on the Orioles' restricted list.  Willis is "almost dumbfounded" by how things unfolded, as he thought he and the O's had agreed to part ways since he was injured and not adjusting well to relief pitching.  "I don't understand what's really going on. I don't know if there's been a miscommunication there," Willis said. "Not with me. I talked to my agent and we talked about it, I talked to the proper representation, I talked to Dan [Duquette] personally….It was face-to-face. I don't know what's going on. And now if I want to sign with another team, I can't."
  • Kubatko hears that Willis has drawn interest from a team in South Korea and a team in Japan, but Matt Sosnick, Willis' agent, denies that his client has received any offers.
  • The Marlins' signing of Ivan Rodriguez in 2003 was "money well spent," team president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest tells Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.  Beinfest doesn't regret any of the moves the club made that season (even trading then-prospect Adrian Gonzalez for Ugueth Urbina) because it led to a championship. "You always hate to trade away a talent like Adrian Gonzalez. But you make it every day if you're going to win the World Series," Beinfest said.
    Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/fish_bytes/2012/04/quick-reflection-on-pudge.html#storylink=cpy
  • Cubs manager Dale Sveum hopes Rodrigo Lopez will clear waivers and remain with the organization, reports ESPN Chicago's Doug Padilla.  The right-hander was designated for assignment earlier today as the Cubs added Michael Bowden to the roster.
  • Pedro Alvarez's struggles inspired a discussion of the greatest draft busts in history in this mailbag piece from Baseball America's Jim Callis.  Alvarez, taken by the Pirates with the second overall pick of the 2008 draft, could be "the biggest waste of hitting talent in draft history" unless he turns himself around, Callis writes.
  • Twins President Dave St. Peter told Jim Memolo and Jeff Nelson on MLB Network Radio that his team needs to pitch better to recover from its 5-11 start. St. Peter suggested the Twins could move Francisco Liriano to the bullpen temporarily. “He’s an asset for this franchise and we need to get him back into a situation where he can go deep into ballgames,” St Peter said. The 28-year-old lefty faces a make or break year and it was announced today that Liriano would skip his next start and not pitch until May 1.

Latest On Orioles, Dontrelle Willis

Dontrelle Willis is on the restricted list following a difference of opinion on the left-hander's role in the Orioles' minor league system. Willis left Baltimore's Triple-A affiliate over the weekend, believing he had been released when he had actually been placed on the restricted list.

"My understanding is that the Orioles people involved in telling Dontrelle he could have his release reiterated that commitment to Dan Duquette," Agent Matt Sosnick told MLBTR's Tim Dierkes. "Yet Duquette refused to honor that and instead put Dontrelle on the restricted list.  We ended up reading about him being put on the restricted list in the news.  It's the craziest thing.  Our expectation is that Dontrelle will be removed from the restricted list today."

Willis left the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate without permission, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported today. Duquette, Baltimore's executive VP of baseball operations, confirmed to Heyman that the sides had a difference of opinion on whether Willis should start or pitch out of the bullpen. Duquette hopes Willis will return and believes he can be an effective reliever, Heyman reports.


Orioles Notes: Britton, Willis, Catchers

Here's the latest from Charm City…

  • Zach Britton underwent two rounds of platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy today in an effort to solve the inflammation in his throwing shoulder.  The young left-hander told reporters (including Brittany Ghiroli from MLB.com) that Dr. James Andrews recommended the procedure and if it works, Britton will be able to avoid surgery.  Britton will be sidelined for at least six weeks and he hopes to be pitching by early May.
  • Dontrelle Willis said he received offers from other teams before signing with the Orioles, tweets Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun.
  • The O's plan to use Willis as a left-handed relief specialist and he'll start the season in the minors, Dan Duquette told reporters (including Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com).  Duquette also said the team would look out for other available pitchers but are concentrating on evaluating their current arms in camp.
  • "It's going to be hard to pick up another catcher this time of the year," Duquette said, indicating that the Orioles will stick with Ronny Paulino as their backup catcher if Taylor Teagarden has to spend time on the disabled list.

Orioles To Sign Dontrelle Willis

The Orioles will sign Dontrelle Willis to a minor league contract, report ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun reports (on Twitter) that Willis will make $700K in the big leagues. The Sosnick Cobbe client was released by the Phillies last week.

Willis pitched 75 2/3 innings for the Reds in 2011 — his highest total since 2007. The 30-year-old southpaw posted a 5.00 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 4.4 BB/9 and a 54.5% ground ball rate in 13 second half starts with Cincinnati this past season. An ineffective Spring Training with Philadelphia led to his release.


NL East Notes: Vizcaino, Phillies, Mets, Lannan

Earlier today MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reviewed the Marlins' busy offseason. Here are some more links from the NL East…

  • Braves GM Frank Wren told reporters that reliever Arodys Vizcaino will miss the 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John ligament replacement surgery. The 21-year-old right-hander appeared in 17 games with the Braves last year and entered the season as the 40th-best prospect in MLB, according to Baseball America.
  • The Phillies could start the season with prospect Freddy Galvis at second base, or explore the trade market for alternatives. ESPN.com’s Buster Olney hears from rival executives that there’s a short list of veteran middle infielders available in trades. Maicer Izturis, Alberto Callaspo, Chris Getz and Blake DeWitt appear to be options for teams seeking infield depth. 
  • Even though they're short on left-handed relief, the Mets are unlikely to sign C.J. Nitkowski, Hong-Chih Kuo or Dontrelle Willis, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports.
  • Jayson Stark of ESPN.com hears the Nationals "still have a lot of motivation" to trade John Lannan and his $5MM salary (Twitter link).