Brewers sign former top rookie Willis, invite him to major-league camp

Dontrelle Willis has been released from seven major-league organizations since 2007.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Brewers have signed left-hander Dontrelle Willis to a minor-league deal that includes an invitation to major-league camp in spring training. 

Willis has not appeared in a big league game since 2011, when he went 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 13 starts for the Cincinnati Reds.

The 33-year-old pitched 2/3 of an inning for Triple-A Fresno in the San Francisco organization last April before he was released. Willis latched on with the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League in July, posting a 6.39 ERA over 12 2/3 innings.

Willis burst onto the scene with the Florida Marlins in 2003, earning National League Rookie of the Year honors after going 14-6 with a 3.30 ERA in 27 starts for the World Series champions.

After he regressed a bit to a 4.02 ERA in 2004, Willis went 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA in 34 starts during 2005 to finish second behind Chris Carpenter in the voting for the National League Cy Young.

Willis is just 14-30 with a 5.68 ERA in his last 78 big-league appearances dating back to 2007. He was involved in two trades and has been let go by seven different organizations.

The Brewers are taking a similar flier on Willis as the one they took on left-hander Zach Duke last January. Duke ended up posting a 2.45 ERA in 74 games out of Milwaukee’s bullpen and signed a three-year, $15 million contract with the Chicago White Sox this offseason.

At worst, Willis shows he has nothing left and the Brewers move on from what is a no-risk contract.

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