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Cubs sign left-hander Dontrelle Willis to a minor league contract

Jan 4, 2013, 10:00 PM EDT

Washington Nationals v Baltimore Orioles Getty Images

“The D-Train” has at least one stop left.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that Dontrelle Willis has agreed to a minor league contract with the Cubs, who originally drafted him back in 2000. The deal includes an invite to minor league camp, but he could get a chance in major league spring training if he’s throwing well.

Willis announced his retirement last July after posting an 8.53 ERA in four appearances with the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate, but he has had a change of heart. The southpaw hasn’t enjoyed any success in the big leagues for a long time, but it’s easy to forget that he’s just 30 years old. This is about as low-risk as minor league deals can get, so it’s worth a shot for all involved.

  1. cur68 - Jan 4, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    Maybe if he’s been working on a knuckleball he’ll have some luck, otherwise…forget it.

  2. dcfan4life - Jan 4, 2013 at 10:36 PM

    His mechanics were always bad. Then he lost his velocity. So now he throws up grapefruits. Doesnt matter how old he is, theres little chance he succeeds.

  3. mazblast - Jan 4, 2013 at 10:52 PM

    In the words of Jim Bouton, “Float like a watermelon, fly like a rocket”.

  4. husky2score - Jan 4, 2013 at 11:26 PM

    My baseball prediction for 2013: The Chicago Cubs will not win the World Series for hundredth whatever time.

    • brewcrewfan54 - Jan 5, 2013 at 1:13 AM

      Come one guys, this is pretty good comedy.

  5. joerymi - Jan 5, 2013 at 12:29 AM

    The tale of two careers.

    Through the first 4 seasons in the majors:(817.1 IP) 3.44 ERA, 121 ERA+, 1.299 WHIP
    Since: (404.1 IP) 5.65 ERA, 76 ERA+, 1.704 WHIP

    Kind of sad.

  6. randygnyc - Jan 5, 2013 at 1:27 AM

    By all accounts, dontrelle is a good guy. I hope that guys like him get the benifit of any doubt when it come to getting another look, over dbags like delmon young and jayson werth. (and yes, I know dontrelle’s career is virtually over. I’m hoping delmon’s is over too. Perhaps he’ll suffer from something career ending, soon)

  7. elpendejo59 - Jan 5, 2013 at 2:08 AM

    Come on, hbt bretheren. I’ve met this guy in spring training clubhouses. He is the embodiment of the ballplayer we all want to love. backstory: I work for the local best buy. I am 24 years old. Boss (former yankees aa catcher) knows I love baseball and sends me to marlins spring training. I have Mr. Dawson’s laptop and Mr. Leiter’s brand new “one Gb thumb drive” at the time. before I can get to them, dontrelle takes me to the field, explains to me how I am his friend…and asks me to warm him up. I oblige and play catch. I walk towards the edit. He asked me why I’m headed that way, runs out and summons me back, THANKS me for throwing with him, signs stuff…without me ask

  8. krazytrane - Jan 5, 2013 at 2:45 AM

    Stop taking the Twins top offseason targets!

  9. flosox - Jan 5, 2013 at 7:56 AM

    I’m curious, in general, why do clubs make moves like this? Are they paying their scouts for this kind of stuff (wish I could recycle old ideas at my job and get credit for it)? There seem to be so many younger unproven options that you might actually find gold with one of them.

    Just seems kind of crazy to me.

    • jwbiii - Jan 5, 2013 at 11:30 AM

      Because every once in a while, a guy who was left for dead turns into Ryan Vogelsong. You’re much more likely to get a Mark Prior, but veteran minor league contracts cost $79,900, so it’s a cheap gamble.

  10. ha5ko - Jan 5, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    Should have tried to get on with a major league organization. Mariners, Royals, even the Mets, but by coming to the Cubs, career suicide.

    Bye the way, did they get him cheaper than Edwin Jackson, cause that was a shrewd economical deal. Theo is a freakin genius………100+ years, whats 5-10 more waiting on a playoff berth

  11. jm91rs - Jan 5, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    This guy needs to give up pitching and spend the year learning how to be an outfielder. I’m telling you with a little luck he could be an average to above average hitter. With his athleticism if he can track down balls his arm should be nice out there too.

    • derklempner - Jan 6, 2013 at 8:24 PM

      With his athleticism if he can track down balls his arm should be nice out there too.

      Oh yeah, I can see it now…

      Runner on third, fly ball to right field. Willis sprints to the foul line to make the catch. Runner tags up and heads for home. Willis uncorks a perfect throw… right to the fan sitting seven rows up behind the Cubs’ dugout.

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