UPDATE: Willis passed his physical exam, so the deal is now official.
Last month Dontrelle Willis was said to be drawing a decent amount of interest as a free agent and sure enough it sounds like he’s managed to get a big-league deal for guaranteed money.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that Willis is close to a one-year, $1 million contract with Philadelphia, where he’d presumably be used out of the bullpen as a situational left-hander (and pinch-hitter).
Willis wasn’t exactly impressive for the Reds in 2011, throwing 76 innings with a 5.00 ERA and 57/37 K/BB ratio in 13 starts, and he hasn’t had an ERA under 5.00 since way back in 2006. Since then he’s logged a total of 404 innings with a 5.65 ERA, walking nearly as many (243) as he struck out (285).
On the other hand, Willis has always done a solid job shutting down lefties and has yet to be given an opportunity to make it as a full-time reliever, with 202 of his 205 career appearances being starts. Based on merit and track record Willis deserved only a minor-league deal, but clearly the Phillies are still believers in the 30-year-old former Rookie of the Year.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.