Dontrelle Willis: A Possible Steal for the Los Angeles Dodgers?

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Dontrelle Willis: A Possible Steal for the Los Angeles Dodgers?
Leon Halip/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Dodgers are slowly rising to the top of the National League West, but one glaring issue still remains: There are four established pitchers in their five-man starting rotation.

The Tigers designated Dontrelle Willis for assignment on Saturday following a rough start for the pitcher in 2010. Willis never really lived up to the expectations put forth by the Tigers when signing him to a 3-year, $29 million contract.

However, the southpaw is a former 22 game winner and World Series Champion while with the Florida Marlins.

There are several other reasons why Dontrelle Willis would make a good fit in Los Angeles. As I mentioned in an earlier article, the Dodgers really need another lefty in their rotation. Clayton Kershaw remains the ace of the staff, and the lone lefty in a quartet that is missing a drummer.

Willis is only owed $12 million for this season, the final year of his contract. That is roughly half the cost of alternatives such as Roy Oswalt, who comes with a price tag in the neighborhood of $25 million.

It is no secret at this point; pitchers that switch leagues tend to have immediate success, and with Willis being in the final year of his contract, the Dodgers could use his services for the remainder of the season before a decision becomes necessary.

Exhibit A: Halladay comes over from the American League, departing the Toronto Blue Jays and joining the Philadelphia Phillies. The result: A perfect game.

Cliff Lee came over to the Phillies in 2009 from the Cleveland Indians, and became a vital piece of their playoff run.

For the Dodgers, Vicente Padilla came across the line from the Texas Rangers, and soon anchored and stabilized the rotation.

Certainly there are cons alongside all of the obvious pros. The hefty contract remainder makes Willis a gamble, especially since he hasn't shown any signs of improvement this season. However, the idea the Dodgers could have five established starters with the return of a healthy Padilla makes it tempting to speculate.

Not to sell John Ely short, the rookie is having an impressive year, but Major League Baseball is a business. The youngster has plenty of time to develop and make his run to become an ace. However, the trend in baseball has a theme: "Win now, worry about tomorrow later."

There are eight days remaining before the Tigers will have to make a decision, and fans can expect a melee to ensue this weekend if nothing materializes in the next few days.

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