MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez with the news:
Willis last pitched in the Majors in 2011 with the Reds, posting a 5.00 ERA in 73.2 innings over 13 starts. It has been a long and He signed with the Phillies for the 2012 season, but he was released during spring training. Shortly thereafter, Willis signed with the Orioles on a Minor League deal. He and the O’s organization disagreed on his usage, with Willis wanting work as a starter. He suffered a forearm strain, and subsequently announced his retirement in July.
The Cubs signed Willis to a Minor League deal in January. He threw seven pitches in a spring training appearance before leaving with a shoulder injury. The club ultimately released him, allowing him to sign with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League. Willis, now 31 years old, posted a 2.57 ERA in 87.2 innings over 14 starts in the independent league.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.