On Monday, Tim Dierkes posted over at MLBTradeRumors that Reds minor league pitcher Dontrelle Willis was scratched from his most recent start at AAA Louisville. Dierkes speculated that it's possible Cincinnati was either going to call up Willis, or Willis could be involved in a potential trade. Nothing has happened so far on Tuesday, but it started some brainstorming, what about Dontrelle Willis on the Royals?
Willis was an absolute monster on the mound with the Marlins from 2003-2006, before being jettisoned to the Tigers in 2007 in the big deal that also brought Miguel Cabrera to Detroit. While Cabrera has went on to have a stellar career, Willis' career has been at a crossroads, having fizzled out in Detroit, Arizona, and San Francisco before signing a minor league contract with the Reds this past off-season. Willis didn't even appear in a major league game with the Giants.
A two-time All-Star, the 2003 National League Rookie of the Year, and the runner-up for the NL Cy Young in 2005, Willis was once traded from Detroit to Arizona for Billy Buckner. Buckner was the former Royals pitcher who once was traded for Alberto Callaspo. That shows how low the market has fallen for Willis over the past four seasons.
With three starting pitchers in the current Royals rotation with ERA's above five, it's time for the Royals to make a move on someone like Willis. It can't get any worse than trotting out Kyle Davies and his 7.77 ERA every sixth day.
The trouble behind Willis has ranged from injuries to anxiety issues, but this year he is 5-2 with a 2.63 ERA in AAA. He is currently averaging eight strikeouts per nine innings, which is higher than any current Royals starter (Felipe Paulino has a 7.88 k/9 rate). His walks are down as well, as he 20 walks in 75.1 inning pitched. That equates to 2.39 walks per every nine innings played. That number would be tied for second on the Royals staff. Granted, all those numbers have come against AAA competition, but again is it not worth trading a minor prospect for the chance at Willis helping the current rotation?
Still at just 29 years old, Willis could serve as another bridge in the rotation until some of the younger prospects become infused into the Royals major league squad. Kansas City wouldn't have to give up a Wil Myers prospect by any means to obtain Willis, so it doesn't hurt to take a chance on a pitcher who not only should help you now, but is also young enough to possibly help you down the road.
As stated earlier, besides injuries, some have stated Willis suffers from anxiety issues. In Kansas City we are used to such issues, having had Zack Greinke on the club for so many years. A place like Kansas City is generally one of the least stressful places to play in baseball, because the expectations have been low for so many years.