Cubs finailize deal with former All-Star Willis

WILLIS D

(Photo by Stephen Green)

The D-Train hit all of its stops and is now back where it started. The Cubs finalized a deal with left-handed pitcher Dontrelle Willis on Tuesday, more than two weeks after the deal was thought to be done.

Willis, who turned 31 earlier this month, will get an invitation to minor league Spring Training. The 2003 NL Rookie of the Year and two-time All-Star was originally drafted by the Cubs in the eighth round of the 2000 draft. Traded to the Marlins in 2002, the lefty powered through the minors and made his major league debut in May 2003.

His best season was 2005, when he finished 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA, striking out 170 batters and walking 55. He made his second All-Star team (the first was in 2003) and finished second in the Cy Young voting. After another successful season in 2006, his ERA jumped to 5.17 in 2007.

Willis was dealt to the Tigers along with Miguel Cabrera for a crop of prospects, including Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin. But injuries and control issues largely derailed his career. He was traded to the Diamondbacks in 2010 and released a month later. He signed on with the Giants shortly after that and was granted free agency at the end of the year. Since 2011, he’s played with the Phillies and the Orioles, mostly in the minors. He voluntarily retired from the game in July 2012.

According to fangraphs.com‘s pitch type stats, Willis’ fastball came in at 87.5 miles per hour and his slider averaged 81.7 mph during his final major league season with Cincinnati in 2011. He also mixed in a curveball and an occasional a change-up.

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