The Phillies released Dontrelle Willis yesterday after bringing him in as a lefty specialist candidate during the offseason. Joel Sherman says the Yankees did offer the D-Train a minor league contract earlier this winter, but he understandably took the big league contract from Philadelphia. He adds that the Yanks might take another look at Willis, but it’s iffy at best. Buster Olney says they could have signed Mike Gonzalez two weeks ago, but didn’t because of the budget.
Willis, still only 30, hasn’t been an effective big leaguer since 2006 with the Marlins. Following a bout with anxiety disorder late in 2009, he’s held left-handed hitters to .178/.245/.248 batting line with 50 strikeouts (35.0%) and ten walks (7.0%) in 143 plate appearances. Those are some pretty strong numbers despite the obvious sample size concerns. Clay Rapada seems to be separating himself from the rest of the second lefty pack (Cesar Cabral and Mike O’Connor), and while I’m not a big Willis fan, there’s no harm in a minor league contract.