Phillies make last-minute trade for reliever Vinny Nittoli amid bullpen woes

Relief pitcher Vinny Nittoli (Stephen Brashear/USA TODAY Sports)
Relief pitcher Vinny Nittoli (Stephen Brashear/USA TODAY Sports) /

The Phillies will bolster their big-league bullpen with right-hander Vinny Nittoli.

Just one day after the Philadelphia Phillies signed a World Series champion reliever to a minor-league deal, President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski has acquired another bullpen piece — who he hopes will make a positive difference in the team’s 30-plus remaining games.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the Phillies have traded for right-handed reliever Vinny Nittoli from the Toronto Blue Jays and will add him to their major-league roster ahead of Friday’s road series opener against the Gabe Kapler-led San Francisco Giants.

Nittoli, 31, reportedly had intentions to opt out of his minor-league deal and elect free agency with on Wednesday, however the Blue Jays found a trade partner in the Phillies — who announced they are sending minor-league catcher Karl Ellison to the American League East organization for the former 25th-round Seattle Mariners draft pick.

The 27-year-old Ellison slashed just .123/.235/.192 in 150 combined plate appearances this season at the Advanced-A and Triple-A levels.

It is not yet known what corresponding move the Phillies will make to clear room for Nittoli on their 40-man roster. The regular 26-man roster will expand to 28 come September 1. The Phillies are also expected to add a position player ahead of the Giants series.

As Passan notes, Nittoli would be eligible to pitch for the Phillies in the postseason:

"“Provided Nittoli is indeed added to the Phillies’ roster tomorrow as expected, he would be eligible to pitch in the postseason. For that eligibility, a player needs to be rostered by Sept. 1.”"

And while the August 2 trade deadline is well in the past, minor-league players not on a 40-man roster can still be traded, as was Nittoli.

Nittoli has impressed at the Triple-A level this season between the New York Yankees and Blue Jays organizations. In 32 appearances and 46 1/3 innings, the 6-foot-1 right-hander has gone 4-1 with a 3.30 ERA, 0.993 WHIP, and 59-14 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.

Nittoli made his big-league debut last season for the Mariners, allowing a hit, two runs, two walks, and a home run through a game an inning of work. He struck out one of his six batters faced in the June appearance, home against the Colorado Rockies.

Given the Phils bullpen has struggled with a Major League sixth-worst 5.79 ERA in the past two weeks, hopefully, Nittoli can “right the ship” as each game becomes that more important in the team’s Wild Card push.

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