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.
Mariners right-hander Erasmo Ramirez has been shut down for two weeks with a minor lat strain, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. It’s a precautionary move, as Ramirez felt some tightness in his arm and could not complete his scheduled bullpen session on Saturday.
There’s no word yet on whether Ramirez will be able to recover in time for the start of the season, though he’s expected to claim a rotation spot again this spring. The 28-year-old righty has been dogged by injuries throughout his six-year career, but finally managed to piece together a full season on the mound in back-to-back stints with the Rays and Mariners in 2017. He went 5-6 in 19 starts for the two clubs and turned in a cumulative 4.39 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 through 131 1/3 innings.
The Mariners are no stranger to pitcher injuries, either. They lost a number of their top arms to various elbow, arm and shoulder injuries last year and cycled through 40 total pitchers as they limped toward a 78-84 finish. Comments from club manager Scott Servais indicate that the team will keep a close eye on Ramirez throughout his recovery, though Divish notes that right-hander Andrew Moore and lefty Ariel Miranda could also slot into the no. 5 spot if Ramirez experiences further setbacks.