The rocky Tigers career of Dontrelle Willis has been well documented. And the story just keeps getting sadder as Willis walked 8 hitters in his rehab start for Toledo. There is this rush in sports conversation today to be the first to declare someone “done” and to call for a release. Much of it is premature and reactionary (Armando Galarraga is the true ace of the staff and Brandon Lyon should be released were popular refrains in April). But we’re on 2 years of frustration with Willis. It’s time.
The fact that the Tigers are even putting Willis on a rehab assignment is surprising. He may have another start left, or at least he was planned to before his latest outing. But to what end? Willis is in no position to join the team at this point and contribute in a very key month of the season. His activation from the DL would only serve to inhibit playoff roster flexibility.
The Tigers have been patient and Willis has done his part by the sounds of things and has been a professional through his ordeal. We don’t know what has happened behind closed doors and there is very little talk that filters through to the media. Both sides get credit for that as well. But it’s time.
There was little harm in holding on to Willis this year, they were paying him anyways and eating 2 years of salary is a harder pill to swallow. It was only a matter of holding a 40 man roster spot, and it was worth pursuing. But now the 40 man roster is full and there are a number of players who will need protecting this offseason and that spot will be better spent on a prospect.
I’d guess it doesn’t happen until the offseason, there isn’t a pressing need to rock any boats right now. But I’d be shocked if he is on the 40 man roster by the time the Winter Meetings arrive in Indianapolis. We’ll always have May 19th.