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.
The Washington Nationals have acquired outfielder Ryan Raburn from the Chicago White Sox. Raburn had been playing at Triple-A Charlotte. He’ll be assigned to Triple-A Syracuse in the Nats organization. The Nationals will send cash or a player to be named later to the White Sox to complete the deal.
Raburn has yet to play in the majors this season. Last year he hit .220/.309/.404 with nine homers in 113 games for the Colorado Rockies. The year before that he hit an excellent .301/.393/.543 in part time play for the Indians. Over the course of his 11 year career the 36-year-old has hit .253/.317/.436, which breaks down to an OPS+ of exactly 100, which is league average. Primarily an outfielder, Raburn has played every position except shortstop and catcher in his career. He’s even pitched twice.
The Nats plans for him aren’t entirely clear, but depth it depth.
Jon Morosi reports that that the Detroit Tigers will make all veterans available via trade if they’re still under .500 by the end of June.
This was the position they entered the offseason with — everyone is available! — but they ended up gearing up for one more push with the core of veterans they currently employ. It was not a bad move, I don’t think. With the exception of the Indians, the AL Central is mostly down, or at least appeared to be over the winter, with the Royals in decline and the Twins and White Sox seemingly a few years away from contention. The Twins, however, have been fantastic and the Tigers have mostly underachieved.
So we’re back to this. Which veterans the Tigers can reasonably unload, however, is an open question. J.D. Martinez is in his walk year, so while tradable, he may not bring back a big return. Guys like Justin Upton, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera either have very large contracts or no-trade protection.
The end of June is still a while from now, of course, and while the Tigers are under .500, they’re only 4.5 games behind the Twins. But they had better turn it around or else it sounds like the front office is going to turn the page.