Dontrelle Willis is getting a second shot at the majors. Or is this his third shot? I don’t know because, quite frankly, I had completely forgotten Dontrelle Willis was even alive.
But Brian Sabean, after that blockbuster Mike Morse signing in December, is keeping the momentum of this dream offseason for the Giants rolling by signing the once-promising Willis to a minor league contract, according to John Shea. (Andrew Baggarly is hearing the same.)
Willis, who turns 32 on Sunday, last pitched in the majors in 2011, when he went 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 13 stars with the Reds.
So, watch out, Dodgers!
By now, you probably know Willis’ story, especially if you keep up with local products in pro sports. It was over 10 years ago, in 2003, when Willis took over the baseball world with a breakout rookie season with the Marlins. He won Rookie of the Year that season, and two years later he finished second in the Cy Young with a staggering 22-10 record and 2.63 ERA. The dozens of fans in Miami were ecstatic about the future!
Since then, a nightmare. A 26-42 record and a 5.02 ERA with four teams while his mechanics got away from him. After being let go by the Reds, Willis has toiled in obscurity, playing in the independent and minor leagues, even including the briefest cups of coffee out of the bullpen with the Giants’ Triple-A team in 2010. He ended last season in the Angels’ Triple-A rotation.
It doesn’t seem likely Willis will come close to sniffing the major league roster, though—not while he still has control issues to sort out. In fact, the only appeal this move should have to Giants fans is that Willis is a local product, having been born and raised in Oakland.
This is a kick-the-tires move if there ever was a kick-the-tires move. Minor league contracts are low risk. I’m not even totally ruling out that Sabean was dared to make this signing. If anything, when you consider Tim Hudson and Morse have been the only key additions after finishing 16 games out of first place, and how the Dodgers are prepared to go “all out” for Masahiro Tanaka, signing Willis is just another reminder of how this Giants offseason has left a lot more to be desired.