Dontrelle Willis Rumors

Phillies Notes: Trades, Pierre, Willis, Playoffs

The Phillies won a franchise-record 102 games last season, but were denied a World Series berth by the now-champion Cardinals. This offseason, they re-signed Jimmy Rollins, extended Kyle Kendrick, and added Jonathan Papelbon, Jim Thome, Laynce Nix, and Dontrelle Willis to bolster their bench and bullpen. Here's the latest on the defending NL East Champions…

  • GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and assistant GM Benny Looper are well aware that trades they've made to acquire Roy Halladay, Hunter Pence, and others will eventually be painful, writes Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Amaro and Looper both discuss how difficult it was to part ways with players like Travis d'Arnaud and Anthony Gose. Amaro didn't deny the November report that he attempted to re-acquire D'Arnaud.
  • The Phillies are the only team who reached out to Juan Pierre this offseason, the outfielder told the Miami Herald's Manny Navarro. Pierre inked a minor league deal back in January.
  • In the same piece, Navarro writes that Willis and Pierre are happy to be in camp together. The pair won a World Series together with the Marlins in 2003, and have remained very close friends since. Pierre is the godfather of all three of Willis' daughters, and the two refer to each other as "brothers." Willis also noted that the Marlins have shown interest in him again since trading him.
  • Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that Halladay isn't a big fan of the extended playoffs. Halladay doesn't like the concept of opening a five-game series with two road games, nor does he like the thought of a 162-game season coming down to one game.
  • Freddy Galvis is working out at second base and third base with the hopes of making the big league team as a utility infielder now that Rollins has re-signed, according to the Inquirer's Matt Gelb.

Contract Details: Tejeda, Blue Jays, Phillies, Pirates

MLB.com's beat reporters have been digging up details on some recent minor league deals. Here are the latest updates:


NL East Links: Oswalt, Davis, Cedeno, Cuddyer

Here's the latest from the National League East…



Phillies Sign Dontrelle Willis

The Phillies announced that they have signed left-hander Dontrelle Willis to pitch out of the bullpen. The contract is worth approximately $1MM and includes performance bonuses for the Sosnick Cobbe client, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reports. 

“Dontrelle, I believe, is at a point in his career where he is ready to make the transition to being an effective reliever,” GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement.

Willis pitched 75 2/3 innings as a starter for the Reds in 2011 — his highest total since 2007. The left-hander 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. However, stats such as xFIP (4.08) and SIERA (4.29) suggest Willis' ERA may have been inflated. Willis, who turns 30 next month, signed a minor league contract last offseason.

Crasnick first reported that the sides were nearing a deal and Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly first reported that they had reached an agreement (Twitter link). The Mariners, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Reds also had interest in Willis as a reliever, Crasnick reports.


Phillies, Dontrelle Willis Nearing Deal

The Phillies are nearing a one-year deal with Dontrelle Willis, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). The contract would be worth approximately $1MM and would include performance bonuses for Willis, a Sosnick Cobbe client.

Willis pitched 75 2/3 innings for the Reds in 2011 — his highest total since 2007. He 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. However, stats such as xFIP (4.08) and SIERA (4.29) suggest Willis' ERA may have been inflated. Willis, who turns 30 next month, signed a minor league contract last offseason.

This post was first published on December 13th, 2011.


Ohio Notes: Thome, Jimenez, Willis, Reds

As the Indians celebrate Jim Thome Night at Progressive Field, it's only fitting that the veteran slugger provide the party's highlight.  Thome hit his 15th homer of the year (and 604th of his career) this evening, which led to an obligatory curtain call for the Cleveland fans.

Here's the latest about the Indians and Reds, including one item about Thome himself…

  • Thome says he's physically capable of playing another season, reports The Associated Press.  Thome says he'll discuss things with his family this winter and he currently isn't leaning one way or the other towards retirement.
  • Ubaldo Jimenez has regressed from his 2010 form, but MLB.com's Jordan Bastian argues that it is far too early for Tribe fans to give up on the right-hander.
  • Dontrelle Willis "would love" to pitch for the Reds in 2012 and praised the organization for giving him a chance to resurrect his career, reports MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.  Willis is an intriguing veteran depth option for any team, and since his asking price won't be too exorbitant, it wouldn't be a shock to see him re-sign in Cincinnati.
  • The Reds' coaches will all return in 2012, Walt Jocketty tells John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link).

Quick Hits: Red Sox, Iannetta, Santana, Willis

Joey Votto celebrated his 28th birthday with a 3-for-4 performance today against the Rockies, including his 27th homer of the year.  It wasn't enough, however, as Cincinnati dropped a 12-7 result to Colorado.

Some notes from around the majors….

  • The Red Sox could use another solid starting pitcher but "for the moment don't feel there's anyone out there available who's better than what they have," a team official tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
  • The Rockies will give catcher Wilin Rosario a lot of playing time this month as they decide what to do with Chris Iannetta this winter, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post.  If Rosario plays well, Colorado may decide to deal Iannetta, who's due to make $3.55MM in 2012.  Iannetta's name was mentioned in trade rumors involving the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Pirates and Padres at the July deadline.
  • Johan Santana will probably not pitch in the Major Leagues for the Mets this season, reports Anthony DiComo for MLB.com.
  • Dontrelle Willis probably won't be back with the Reds next season, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.  Willis has re-established himself as a big league starter this year but Fay figures that this progress has likely priced the southpaw out of the Reds' range.
  • Another Red who likely won't be back in Cincinnati next year is Paul Janish, opines Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News.  Despite some excellent glovework (a +11.6 UZR/150 at shortstop this year), Janish will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter and is probably a non-tender candidate with Zack Cozart taking over at short.
  • Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune says several American League scouts have asked him about Jesus Guzman's fielding ability in recent weeks, a sign that AL teams could have an interest in Guzman as a DH candidate.  Center discusses Guzman, Bud Black's status, a possible extension for Cameron Maybin and other Padres-related topics in an online chat with fans.
  • Andruw Jones has been playing all season with a small tear in his left knee, reports Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger.  The Yankees discovered the injury during Jones' physical but signed the veteran outfielder anyway  (both Twitter links).

Players Who Cleared Waivers

This is a running list of players who have cleared waivers, based on published reports. Once a player clears waivers, he can be traded to any team (barring a no-trade clause). This list can always be found in the sidebar under MLBTR Features. Player names are linked to the source articles.

Updated 8-30-11 at 10:56pm

Starting pitchers

  • Aaron Harang, Padres - Harang's ERA is a respectable 3.92 with 6.7 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in pitcher-friendly Petco Park.
  • Dontrelle Willis, Reds – Willis has bounced back with the Reds, posting a 4.10 ERA, 6.3 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 0.68 HR/9, and 56.8% groundball rate in 52 2/3 innings.
  • Carlos Zambrano, Cubs – Zambrano cleared waivers prior to being placed on the disqualified list.  He has a short fuse, lousy stats, and over $22MM remaining on his contract through next year.
  • Rodrigo Lopez, Cubs – Not surprising to see the journeyman clear waivers.
  • Chris Capuano, Mets – Capuano owns a 3.74 SIERA as of August 14th and earns only $1.5MM plus incentives, so it's hard to see why a few teams didn't place claims.
  • Bronson Arroyo, Reds – His peripheral stats haven't changed much, but Arroyo has a 5.31 ERA as of August 15th.  $15MM of his $35MM contract is deferred through 2021 without interest.  The deferrals are voided if he's traded, however.  At any rate, expect Arroyo to stay put.
  • Bruce Chen, Royals – Chen has his moments, but it's not surprising to see him clear waivers.
  • Jason Vargas, Mariners – Like many of the starters here, Vargas' fastball wouldn't break a window.  But he has less than a million bucks left on his contract this year and is under team control through 2013.  He'd fit nicely at the back end of several rotations.    
  • Chien-Ming Wang, Nationals – His three starts this season were his first in over two years, so it's understandable that contenders wouldn't jump to claim him.
  • Tom Gorzelanny, Nationals – Booted to the bullpen last month, the 29-year-old flyballing southpaw has posted strong strikeout rates in recent years but can't hold a rotation job.
  • Ted Lilly, Dodgers – He always has strong strikeout-to-walk numbers, but is prone to the longball.  With over 82% of his $33MM contract remaining ($27MM+), it's no surprise he cleared waivers.

Relievers

  • Joe Nathan, Twins - Nathan won't be traded, according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
  • Chad Qualls, Padres – Qualls is enjoying a bounce-back season, though his strikeout rate dipped to 5.3 K/9 this year.
  • Bill Bray, Reds – Bray has been decent this year, and a little tougher against lefties.  He'll be arbitration eligible for the second time this offseason.
  • Hong-Chih Kuo, Dodgers – A dominant reliever last year, Kuo has dealt with a back injury and anxiety disorder as his control has eluded him.
  • Huston Street, Rockies – Between a recent triceps injury and the $9MM+ owed to him through 2012, Street was expected to clear.
  • Brian Fuentes, Athletics – He's owed over $6MM through next year, and has been mediocre for the A's.
  • Jon Rauch, Blue Jays – Rauch is affordable, but he's on the DL for an appendectomy and wasn't great before that.
  • Mike Gonzalez, Orioles – Gonzalez has been dominant in August, and against lefties.  The problem is that he's still owed almost a million bucks.
  • Kevin Gregg, Orioles – Gregg might be the worst reliever holding down a closer's job, and he's owed at least $6.4MM through next year.
  • John Grabow, Cubs – He's been ineffective even against lefties, and he has over $700K remaining.
  • D.J. Carrasco, Mets – The Mets signed Carrasco to a two-year deal in December – their biggest acquisition of the offseason - but optioned him to Triple-A in April.  He stayed there until mid-June.

Position players

  • Aramis Ramirez, Cubs – In July, Ramirez's agent said that his client would consider an August deal but he has since had a change of heart.  The Cubs hold an option on Ramirez's deal worth $16MM.
  • Alfonso Soriano, Cubs – This one was also obvious.  SI's Jon Heyman notes on Twitter that the Cubs are willing to pay a "major, major chunk" of the $58.35MM owed to the left fielder through 2014.
  • Lance Berkman, Cardinals – Berkman has said he hopes to re-sign with St. Louis after the season, when he hits free agency.  Still, it's a surprise to see him clear waivers.
  • Ryan Theriot, Cardinals - Theriot earns $3.3MM this year and will be a non-tender candidate after the season.
  • David Wright, Mets - It's surprising that Wright cleared waivers, but it doesn't mean the Mets have interest in dealing him. Wright earns $15MM next year and can void a $16MM club option for 2013 if traded.
  • Conor Jackson, Athletics – Olney notes that the Red Sox asked about the light-hitting 1B/LF/RF, but there doesn't seem to be any traction there.
  • David DeJesus, Athletics – DeJesus has had a rough year but could at least be useful against right-handed pitching.
  • Hideki Matsui, Athletics – The Athletics have several waiver trade candidates, and Matsui's hot second half and low salary (owed less than $2MM the rest of the season) could make him a popular target.
  • Jason Bay, Mets – With Bay being owed at least $38.8MM through 2013, this was expected.  It's only been 12 games, but Bay is at least having his first good month of 2011.
  • Willie Harris, Mets – The versatile Harris has less than $200K left on his contract.
  • Angel Pagan, Mets – It's been a dismal year for Pagan, who may be in line for a non-tender after the season.
  • Carlos Lee, Astros – No surprise here, as the 35-year-old is hitting .263/.321/.417 and is owed almost $23MM through next year.  El Caballo's ten-and-five rights kick in after the season.
  • Johnny Damon, Rays – Damon blocked an August trade last summer and 12 months later he's a candidate to be traded once again.

Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.


Stark On Astros, Damon, Jimenez, Rockies

There's now almost no chance that MLB will expand the playoffs by next year, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. It's far from a lock that the postseason will expand under baseball's upcoming collective bargaining agreement, despite heavy rumblings about expanded playoffs. The union views postseason changes as part of a series of related possible changes, which is why we won't necessarily see more playoff teams by 2012, according to Stark. Here are the rest of his rumors…

  • Incoming Astros owner Jim Crane has told commissioner Bud Selig privately that he wants to keep the Astros in the NL Central. However, MLB might look to move Houston to the AL West to even out baseball's divisions.
  • Johnny Damon cleared waivers and can now be dealt to any team, according to Stark. Rival teams say Damon didn't draw heavy trade interest last month.
  • Stark hears that the MRI the Indians took of Ubaldo Jimenez came back "remarkably clean."
  • Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, who has often been mentioned as a possible successor to Selig, isn't lobbying to become the next commissioner, according to a longtime associate. "If he did it, he'd do it out of loyalty to the game. But I wouldn't say he has a burning passion to do it."
  • The Rockies are saying they'd like to swap Ian Stewart for another player who could use a change of scenery. However, other clubs recognize that Stewart is a non-tender candidate, so his trade value is not high.
  • The Rockies could take a flyer on J.C. Romero, according to Stark.
  • One NL scout says Dontrelle Willis looks as good as he has in three or four years.

Next Move For Dontrelle Willis?

Dontrelle Willis was scratched from his start for the Louisville Bats tonight, leading to speculation that the Reds are calling him up or he's involved in a trade.  Bronson Arroyo has dealt with a back issue this year, so it's possible Willis could take his place in the Reds' rotation for a while.

Willis' agent Matt Sosnick told me tonight that he is aware his client did not pitch, but he has no knowledge of the Reds' short-term plans.  Sosnick added:

"Based on the way that Dontrelle has pitched this year, he probably would've been in the Majors by now if not for the Reds' rotation depth.  I feel strongly that he has turned the corner.  He's in the best shape of his career and is throwing with the highest velocity he's ever had.  I feel very confident that he will be an impact player in the Major Leagues this year and for many years to come."

Willis, of course, was an impact player for the first four seasons of his career for the Marlins.  He battled anxiety and injury problems after that, bouncing around after struggling with the Tigers.  The 29-year-old has a 2.63 ERA, 8.0 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, and 0.6 HR/9 in 13 starts for the Reds' Triple-A affiliate this year.