Latest Phillies signing is one of the best stories in baseball

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 01: Aaron Barrett #32 of the Washington Nationals prepares to throw out the first pitch prior to the National League Wild Card game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park on October 01, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 01: Aaron Barrett #32 of the Washington Nationals prepares to throw out the first pitch prior to the National League Wild Card game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park on October 01, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia Phillies sign RHP Aaron Barrett to a minor-league contract

On Wednesday, Aaron Barrett announceed that he was signing with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The deal has not been formally announced, but confirmation from the player himself is pretty solid proof.

The Phillies have signed several pitchers to minor-league contracts throughout the ongoing MLB lockout, as 40-man transactions are not allowed.

Barrett, a 34-year-old righty, has had a long and winding road in baseball. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2006, then the Minnesota Twins in 2008, and the Texas Rangers in 2009, before getting taken by the Washington Nationals in 2010, eight rounds after they selected Bryce Harper as the first overall pick.

After working his way up the Nats farm system, Barrett made his big-league debut on Opening Day 2014 and had an impressive rookie season. He compiled a 2.66 ERA over 50 appearances, including 12 games finished. Unfortunately, in his sophomore season, Barrett required Tommy John surgery as well as multiple surgeries to remove bone spurs from his elbow and ankle.

Things got worse for Barrett before they got better. While rehabbing during the 2016 season, he broke a bone in his pitching arm. The incident was reportedly so horrific that one teammate vomited in the dugout, and big-league manager Dusty Baker had the video locked away from the world’s prying eyes. Dr. James Andrews, who has operated on superstar athletes such as Michael Jordan and Roger Clemens, said he had never seen damage like it, comparing it to the traumatic injury one would sustain in a car crash.

After a two-hour surgery by Dr. Andrews turned into six hours, Barrett had to learn to pitch again. He described his arm, now full of metal plates and screws, as “bionic.” The recovery and rehab were arduous and Barrett did not pitch in 2016 or 2017, but the Nationals believed in him enough to re-sign him to a two-year minor-league contract. On June 15, 2018, he made his first professional appearance since 2015.

By 2019, the Nationals were ramping Barrett up for a return to the majors that previously seemed impossible.

Finally, on September 3, 2019, he found out that the Nationals were bringing him back up, and it was one of the most heartwarming moments of the year.

Yeah, there’s crying in baseball.

On September 7, Barrett pitched in a major-league game for the first time 2015. He struck out Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr.

Though Barrett did not appear in the Nationals’ postseason run, he received a World Series ring as a member of the 40-man roster.

Now, Barrett will get another chance, this time with his longtime team’s division rivals. The Phillies will place him in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but he’ll be competing for a spot with the big-league bullpen.

The Phillies bullpen imploded on the regular in 2021, leading MLB in blown saves for almost the entire season, and tying the single-season record of 34 blown saves, as set by the 2004 Colorado Rockies. As such, building a better bullpen has been a central focus of the Phillies’ offseason, adding Corey Knebel and Kent Emanuel before the lockout, and signing several pitchers to minor-league contracts throughout. But few players in the game have overcome as much as Barrett.

Hopefully, he can help the Phillies overcome, too.

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