According to a report by Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the SF Giants signed right-handed pitcher Zack Littell to a minor-league contract with an invitation to big-league Spring Training. Littell appeared in 43 MLB games with the Minnesota Twins from 2018-2020. He made just six appearances this season and finished the year with a 9.95 ERA.
While the Giants have added several relievers with big-league experience on minor-league deals, Littell is one of the youngest of the group. Heading into his age-25 season, Littell is actually not far removed from minor-league success as a starting pitcher. While it’s rare for players to move back to the rotation after moving to the pen, the Giants could surely use some more starting pitching depth.
The SF Giants signed Zack Littell to a minor-league contract.
Littell completed 100 innings between Triple-A and the big-league roster in 2019 across 49 appearances. While he struck out 9.7 batters per nine innings at Triple-A, Littell failed to generate the same punchout rates at the big-league level. However, while he struck out just 7.8 batters per nine innings, Littell limited his free passes and finished the season with a 2.68 ERA across 37 MLB innings.
However, Statcast’s batted-ball data remained skeptical of his success. While other ERA estimators like FIP (3.62) and xFIP (4.10) xERA were more confident in his performance, xERA estimated Littell’s performance worthy of a 5.33 ERA. Things seemed to regress to that mean in 2020.
Of course, signing a low-cost minor-league deal, the SF Giants are by no means counting on Zack Littell to make an impact in their bullpen. With that said, he joins a long list of veterans who will compete for a spot on the Opening Day roster. Even if he does not crack the first iteration of the team’s bullpen, he should have a chance to make an impression at Triple-A and eventually receive some big-league opportunities.