D-Train heads to Cincinnati

Still hoping for another shot at being a productive pitcher in the big leagues, Dontrelle Willis — one of the best young lefties in the game for a four-year stretch with the Marlins — signed a Minor League contract with the Reds on Monday.

Willis’ deal includes an invitation to Spring Training. And because of the depth in Cincinnati’s starting rotation, the long-time starter is going to try to pitch out of the bullpen, even though he’s only made three relief appearances in his big league career.

From 2003-06, Willis went a combined 58-39 with a 3.44 ERA and averaged 32 starts per year. But from 2007-10, he went 13-24 with a 5.81 ERA while averaging just 16 starts a year and striking out only 22 more batters than he walked.

In December 2007, Willis was given a three-year, $29 million contract, but the final year of that deal proved to be the tipping point. That season, the 28-year-old was designated for assignment by the Tigers on May 30, dealt to the Diamondbacks for Billy Buckner two days later, released by Arizona on July 6 and signed by the Giants to a Minor League contract on July 14.

With the Tigers and D-backs, Willis posted a 5.62 ERA while walking 56 and striking out 47 in 15 games (13 starts).

– Alden Gonzalez   

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