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As the Philadelphia Phillies continue to explore pitching depth with the offseason winding down, the club reportedly lost out on signing a three-year veteran relief pitcher to no team other than the Gabe Kapler-led San Francisco Giants.
According to Darren Wolfson of Minnesota’s 5 Eyewitness News, the Phillies were a finalist to sign right-handed reliever Zack Littell, who instead inked a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training with the Giants on Wednesday. “The former Twins reliever had it come down to Giants and Phillies,” Wolfson said. “He’ll be in big league camp. Twins didn’t make him a MiLB offer to return, and he was ready to move on anyway.”
The Phillies missed out on a right-handed arm who had a dominant 2019 season.
Littell, 25, was drafted in the 11th round of the 2013 draft out of high school in his native state of North Carolina. Eventually debuting with the Minnesota Twins in June 2018, the right-hander has made 43 career appearances, including two as a starter and 11 that finished a game. Combined, he has gone 6-2 with a 4.52 ERA, 1.476 WHIP, and 49-23 strikeouts-to-walks ratio spanning 63 2/3 innings.
Littell shined during the 2019 season, going 6-0 with an impressive 2.68 ERA, 1.162 WHIP, and 32-9 strikeouts-to-walks ratio spanning 29 relief appearances, seven games finished, and 37 innings.
Had the Phillies been able to ink Littell to a similar minor-league deal, he would have joined fellow non-roster invitee right-handed pitchers Neftali Feliz, Bryan Mitchell, Ivan Nova, David Paulino, and Michael Ynoa when pitchers and catchers hold their first workout in Clearwater, Florida, in two weeks.
Considering the Phillies have already made several big-league bullpen additions — including Archie Bradley, Jose Alvarado, and Sam Coonrod — and have added starting pitching depth with Matt Moore and Chase Anderson, losing out on Littell is not the end of the world. Yet, Kapler’s team being the one that bested Dave Dombrowski and Sam Fuld with the Phils sure does sting at least a little.