The Dodgers have hired Dontrelle Willis as a special assistant in the player development department. Willis made the announcement himself via Twitter, joking “Special assistant sounds dope even tho i don’t know what it means.” A veteran of nine MLB seasons, the D-Train is best remembered for his time with the Marlins from 2003-07, a stint that included NL Rookie Of The Year honors in 2003, a second-place finish NL Cy Young voting in 2005, two All-Star appearances, and a World Series ring with the Marlins’ 2003 championship team.
Still only 39 years old, Willis’ last MLB game was in 2011, though he kept pitching in the minors and in independent ball until 2015. He has since worked as a TV broadcaster since retiring, and Willis will now move into a front office role alongside a former teammate from the 2010 Tigers — Will Rhymes is entering his third season as the Dodgers’ director of player development.
More from around the National League as we head into March…
- Noah Syndergaard is making good progress in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, Mets manager Luis Rojas and pitching coach Jeremy Hefner told reporters (including Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News). The right-hander’s latest rehab step was throwing three sliders on Saturday, and Syndergaard has otherwise been participating in most normal workouts and baseball activities. This doesn’t mean his timeline has been pushed up, however, as Syndergaard’s target date for a return is still sometime in June, more than 14 months after his TJ procedure. Hefner sees the extended recovery time as a plus, describing the usual 14-15 month process as “good for the player, for their long-term success…making sure that you’re really locked in before the lights turn on and intensity goes up.”
- “It was fun to sit back on a team and I wasn’t in a trade rumor,” Wil Myers told Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “It was cool to watch these trades unfold and they became my new teammates instead of guys I was traded for.” Myers been a constant on MLBTR’s pages over the years, thanks to two past trades and a number of other rumors, particularly last season when the Padres reportedly explored several deals to get Myers (and his contract) off the books in the wake of his lackluster 2019 season. In 2020, however, Myers rebounded to hit .288/.353/.606 with 15 homers in 218 plate appearances — the best overall season of his career in terms of pure production, with the caveat that it came during an abbreviated season. Myers still has $41MM in guaranteed money remaining on his deal through the 2022 season, though that contract no longer looks quite as onerous as it once did, given both Myers’ production and the Padres’ willingness to spend big in pursuit of a title. “To sit back and know what this organization has been through, what I’ve been through, it’s really cool to sit here and see where we are in 2021,” Myers said.