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Things have come full circle for Dontrelle Willis, as he has signed a minor league deal with the team that took a chance on him back in 2000 in the 8th round of the MLB draft.
The lefty has experienced plenty of highs and lows since then, and now it’s a question of whether he can find a spot on the Cubs’ 2013 roster, or your fantasy baseball team.
It’s obviously a low risk, high reward deal for the Cubs to give Willis, still just 31-years-old, one last chance to resurrect his career.
In recent seasons Willis has been far from the dominate starter we saw with the Marlins. His deceptive delivery that once worked so well for him as seemingly worked against him since the trade that sent he and Miguel Cabrera from Miami to Detroit during the winter of 2007.
Following the trade Willis’ walk rate, in particular, climbed to unsightly levels as he averaged nearly one walk per inning since his first full season with the Tigers. It’s unquestionably contributed to an ERA hovering right around 5.00 during the same time frame.
This spring he’ll work closely with the Cubs’ coaching staff to fine tune the mechanical flaws that have derailed his once bright future.
It’s worth noting the D-Train hasn’t pitched in the majors since a brief stint with the Reds in 2011, which resulted in a (1-6) record and a 5.00 ERA in 13 starts.
He later signed with the Phillies but was released last March before the start of the season. Willis then caught on with Baltimore, but again struggled allowing eight runs in just 6.1 innings at Triple-A. That led to his voluntary retirement on July 2 last year.
The good fortune of being left-handed, however, has presented Willis with perhaps his final opportunity to pitch in the major leagues.
If he’s able to regain his old form this spring it’s likely Willis could stick with the Cubs, who are in need of another left-handed reliever. And if Willis makes it to Opening Day he could prove a sneaky good fantasy pick.