Jettisoning Willis proves results matter more than money to Tigers
In two years and two months of tinkering, Dontrelle Willis never did.
That's why Scherzer is back in the Tigers' starting rotation in spectacular strikeout fashion, and Willis is suddenly unemployed at age 28 -- albeit with an $8.5 million severance package.
In the Tigers' clubhouse, players will shrug and tell you baseball is a business. That's true. But it is a results-oriented business even more than it is a money business. If that wasn't true, Willis would still be wearing the Olde English D.
Willis was on the final year of that silly, spendthrift three-year, $29 million contract the Tigers bestowed on him before he ever threw a pitch here. The Tigers still owed him $8.5 million for the remainder of this season, whether he earned it or not.
Meanwhile, Scherzer was making a mere $1.5 million. And Armando Galarraga, who makes just $440,000, has an option left and could have easily and justifiably been sent to Toledo to make room for Scherzer.
But instead of taking the easy way out, the Tigers opted to bite the bullet, admit their mistake, and jettison Willis.
Why? Because Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski believe that move gives them the best chance of reaching the postseason this year.
You can lambaste Dombrowski for giving Willis that ludicrous contract in the first place. Dontrelle, after all, was coming off the worst year of his career in Florida. That should have raised a red flag right there.
But you also have to credit the Tigers president/GM for having the guts now to do what was best for the ballclub, regardless of the cost -- even though he knows Willis could resurrect his career elsewhere.
Leyland said Sunday he doesn't believe Willis' career is over. Dontrelle's best shot at a comeback would probably be in the National League. And, according to Foxsports.com, Dontrelle has told friends he "would love to play on the West Coast."
The Arizona Diamondbacks might be his best bet.
Interested teams can either wait for the Tigers to release Willis, then hope to entice him with a modest offer, or try to work out a trade with the Tigers now, offering a minor league prospect in return. If the Tigers are able to trade Dontrelle, they would be responsible for almost all of the $8.5 million remaining on his contract for the rest of this season.