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SF Giants: Phillies Add Veteran Lefty to MiLB Deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 23: Tony Watson #56 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park on September 23, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 23: Tony Watson #56 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park on September 23, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 21: Tony Watson #56 of the San Francisco Giants pitches in the top of the eighth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Oracle Park on August 21, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

The Philadelphia Phillies had done a nice job rebuilding a bullpen that struggled badly in 2020 and they have made one more notable addition in a former SF Giants lefty.

Former SF Giants reliever Tony Watson has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Phillies, according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.Com. The deal includes an invite to spring training and the veteran southpaw has a good shot of making the club.

Phillies sign a former SF Giants reliever to a MiLB deal

The Pittsburgh Pirates originally drafted Watson in the ninth round of the 2007 draft out of the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. He began his pro career as a starter, making 56 starts between 2008-2010, but transitioned to the bullpen permanently by 2011. This turned out to be a great career move.

Watson debuted with Pittsburgh in 2011 as a 26-year-old where he registered a 3.95 ERA across 41 innings. In ten seasons as a major leaguer, he has posted a 2.80 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 1.09 WHIP, and a stout 3.37 SO/W ratio. To put it differently, Watson has quietly been one of the better relievers over the past decade.

The former ninth-round pick became a free agent for the first time following the 2017 season where he signed a two-year, $6.5 million pact with San Francisco. The deal included an option for a third year for $3 million, which was exercised.

With the Giants, Watson continued to be a reliable arm while being especially tough on left-handed hitters. In three seasons, he generated a 3.20 ERA, but his 4.69 FIP over his last two years suggests some good fortune might be contributing to his knack at preventing runs.

Over the years, the southpaw has proven adept at keeping hitters off-balance with his pinpoint accuracy and submarine-style delivery as he does not feature a power fastball. Pitching to contact is a tough way to generate outs as a reliever, but few have been better at it over the last decade than Watson.

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Surprisingly, the former SF Giants reliever did not have much of a market and had to settle for a minor-league deal with Philadelphia. He joins a rebuilt bullpen that now features Archie Bradley and Jose Alvarado as well as a handful of non-roster invitees including Brandon Kintzler Neftali Feliz, and Hector Rondon. Given Watson’s unique delivery and the fact that he throws from the left side, his chances of making the Opening Day roster should be favorable.

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