In a move that will certainly receive more publicity than it should, the Chicago Cubs, on Friday, agreed to a Minor League Contract with starting pitcher Dontrelle Willis. Willis was drafted by the Cubs in the eighth round of the 2000 first year player draft. Willis, though, was traded to the then Florida Marlins before he ever had the opportunity to pitch for the Cubs at the Major League Level. In his first season in the Major Leagues, Willis posted a 3.30 ERA to go along with a record of 14-6. Willis’ best season of his career came in 2005 when the pitcher won 22 games for the Marlins while posting an ERA of 2.63. That was essentially the last time that Willis was a relevant starting pitcher in the Major Leagues. Willis was last seen in the Major Leagues with the Cincinnati Reds in 2011 where the pitcher started 13 games while posting an ERA of 5.00.
While the move is certainly questionable for the Cubs, I can see why the Cubs would make the deal. First, the deal is a Minor League deal. Meaning this experiment could be over with by the time Spring Training concludes. But, Willis will only be 31 years old by the time catchers and pitchers report to Arizona next month. Meaning there still may be some life to Willis’ baseball career. Nonetheless, on a Minor League deal, there was no harm in seeing if Willis can be an effective starting pitcher.