It's Official: Willis Is a Phillie

Phillies sign Dontrelle Willis to 1-year deal

The Phillies made it official Thursday announcing that they signed lefty Dontrelle Willis to a one-year contract, worth $850,000.

“I wanted to win and what better ball club to be on than Philadelphia,” Willis said.

The 30-year-old Willis was the 2003 NL Rookie of the Year with Florida and finished second in Cy Young Award voting in 2005 but has since fallen off going just 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA for Cincinnati last year.

The deal was announced Thursday, and includes $400,000 in performance bonuses, including $25,000 for 30 plate appearances, which is an unusual provision for a pitcher. Willis is a career .244 hitter with nine homers.

"Wherever they need me, whatever role," Willis said. "I heard someone talking about pinch-hitting, so whatever role. With all of these starters going nine and 10 innings, I'm not sure I'll get the chance to do that. But I just want to get into the best shape I can be and I feel great. I'm not going to rock the boat; I just want to get on."

Willis is expected to pitch out of the bullpen for the Phillies, who've won five straight NL East titles. He's 72-69 with a 4.17 ERA in nine seasons with four teams. Willis has made just three relief appearances in 205 career games.

"Dontrelle, I believe, is at a point in his career where he is ready to make the transition to being an effective reliever," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.

"Because of his experience, past success and overall positive energy, we feel this will be an opportunity to benefit both him and the team, especially with the success he has had against left-handed hitters, both recently and over the course of his career."

Dontrelle also brings a lifelong friendship with the Phillies key free-agent to the table. Willis grew up playing baseball with shortstop Jimmy Rollins.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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