The DTrain is going to be laying down new tracks….right out of Detroit. Dontrelle Willis, the struggling left hander, was designated for assignment after Saturday night’s loss to the Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park.

The move removes Willis from the 40 man roster and leaves the Tigers 10 days to trade him, release him, or send him outright to the minor leagues. However, Willis would have the right to refuse any minor league assignment and become a free agent.

This likely ends Willis’ tenure in the Tigers’ organization, which has spanned the past three seasons. 

Willis was acquired from the Florida Marlins as part of the blockbuster Miguel Cabrera trade made during the winter before the 2008 season.

He was signed to a three year contract extension before ever throwing a pitch for the Tigers. The contract was worth $29 million, $12million of that being owed in 2010. The Tigers are still on the hook for the remainder of that $12 million Willis is owed this year.

However, this move is hardly surprising, considering the Tigers spent nearly $13.8 million on outfielder Gary Sheffield after releasing him before the 2009 season.

Cabrera’s emergence as one of the top sluggers in baseball has eased the sting from not getting much out of Willis. 

Over parts of three seasons with the Tigers, Willis has made only 22 starts. His composite numbers from those three years: 2-8, 6.86 ERA with 92BBs and 68Ks in 101 innings pitched. 

Willis spent time on the disabled list in both 2008 and 2009 as a means to try to correct his wildness and ineffectiveness. Said Detroit General Manager David Dombrowski, “He had trouble throwing strikes on a consistent basis.”

With Willis being cut, RHP Max Scherzer will be recalled from Toledo of the International League. Scherzer is scheduled to get the 1:05pm start in the third game of the series against the Oakland Athletics. 

“Willis worked hard, tried to overcome a lot. But we had to make the best [decision] for the club. It’s hard.” said Dombrowski on the decision to designate Willis for assignment.

Ultimately, one has to believe the reason the Tigers’ organization gave Willis such a long leash was not only because of the money he was owed, but the quality of individual and teammate that he is. We wish you all the best, DTrain.

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