Last week after an ugly appearance Dontrelle Willis described his performance as “horse[bleep]” and it turns out the Phillies apparently agreed, releasing the veteran left-hander today.
Willis signed a one-year, $850,000 deal in December and was expected to serve as a situational southpaw out of the bullpen after shutting down lefty bats in 2011, but he’d never filled that role before and unfortunately the switch to relief didn’t work miracles on the 30-year-old who hasn’t been healthy and effective in the same season since 2006.
He was checked out for a sore arm and fatigue recently, but the Phillies decided Willis isn’t worth the trouble at this point. Last season Willis had a 5.00 ERA and 57/37 K/BB ratio in 76 innings for the Reds and combined during the past five seasons he has a 5.65 ERA in 404 innings, albeit all as a starter.
Willis has always been a good-hitting pitcher and, as sad as this sounds, he might want to give hitting a try full time. His odds of returning to the majors and finding success again as a pitcher are slim and dwindling. If he keeps pitching, expect Willis to settle for a minor-league deal somewhere.
MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that the Dodgers have acquired catcher Carlos Ruiz and cash from the Phillies in exchange for catcher A.J. Ellis, minor league pitcher Tommy Bergjans, and a player to be named later. It was reported on Wednesday that Ruiz and first baseman Ryan Howard both cleared waivers and that Ruiz was drawing interest from a couple of teams.
Ruiz, 37, has served as the backup catcher behind Cameron Rupp. Over 193 plate appearances, he hit .261/.368/.352. He continued to play solid defense and has always had a reputation for handling his pitchers very well. In fact, in a commercial for the video game MLB 2k11, former Phillie Roy Halladay essentially professed his love for Ruiz:
Ellis, 35, is a free agent after the season while Ruiz has a club option for the 2017 season worth $4.5 million. It seems likely that the Dodgers pick up that option and make Ruiz Grandal’s backup next year. Ellis hit a lousy .194/.285/.252 in 161 plate appearances, but the Phillies aren’t particularly concerned with his production since they’re still facilitating their rebuilding process.
Bergjans, 23, has spent the season with High-A Rancho Cucamonga. He’s posted a 4.98 ERA with a 133/29 K/BB ratio in 130 innings spanning 21 starts and three relief appearances. He went to school in Haverford, PA so the Phillies are bringing in a local guy.
Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista has been activated from the 15-day disabled list ahead of Thursday night’s game against the Angels, the club announced. Utilityman Ryan Goins has been optioned to Triple-A Buffalo to create room on the roster.
Bautista missed the minimum 15 days due to a sprained left knee. He’s battled injuries throughout the season, limiting him to just 355 plate appearances over 80 games. He’ll resume play with a .222/.349/.444 triple-slash line, 15 home runs, and 48 RBI.
Bautista is in Thursday night’s starting lineup, batting first and serving as the DH.