The Giants signed Dontrelle Willis to a minor league deal back in January and the Fresno Grizzlies, the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate, have added the lefty to their active roster, per the Grizzlies’ Twitter account.
Willis, 32, hasn’t pitched in the Major Leagues since 2011, but it hasn’t been for a lack of trying. Going into the 2012 season, Willis signed a minor league deal with the Phillies, but he was released during spring training. The Orioles grabbed him, and he made four appearances with Triple-A Norfolk. Willis announced his retirement on July 2, but he wouldn’t stay retired for long.
The Cubs signed Willis to a minor league deal in January 13, but Willis injured his shoulder in his first spring start and the Cubs released him. The Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League signed him in April and he had good results, though against markedly inferior competition. Willis made the Atlantic League All-Star team, and the Angels signed him to a minor league deal in August. He posted more poor results at Triple-A.
Willis won the NL Rookie of the Year award in 2003 with the Marlins, and finished second in NL Cy Young voting in 2005. His quirky mechanics soon caused control issues, leading to his star falling quickly. During his prime, he was one of baseball’s most interesting players and he was a lot of fun to watch.
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.
Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”
On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”
Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.
Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.