As first reported by the Tigers’ own official team Twitter feed, left-hander Dontrelle Willis has been designated for assignment to clear room for the promotion of Sunday’s starter, Max Scherzer.
Thus ends an era, for lack of a better term. Willis, now 28, joined the Tigers on December 5, 2007, as part of a massive trade from the Marlins that also involved Miguel Cabrera. He signed a three-year, $29 million contract extension soon after the transfer was complete, and that’s when the problems began.
D-Train made only seven starts in his first year with the Tigers and allowed 25 earned runs in 24 innings — good enough for a 9.38 ERA and a 2.21 WHIP. Things got no better in 2009 and he continued to show ineffectiveness this season.
Perhaps a move back to the National League will help Willis revitalize his career. It’s worked so far for Carlos Silva, and countless others have enjoyed similar success. Either way, his time in Detroit, wearing the Olde English “D,” will not be remembered fondly.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.