The Cubs and free agent right-hander Vinny Nittoli are in agreement on a minor league deal with an invite to big league Spring Training, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The Gaeta Sports Management client would earn a $775K salary in the big leagues. The Phillies designated Nittoli for assignment last week and released him a couple days ago, but he’ll only have a brief stay on the free-agent market.
The 32-year-old Nittoli made his big league debut in 2021 when he tossed an inning for the Mariners, capping off an eight-year grind to the big leagues. The former 25th-rounder spent the 2022 season with three different organizations, logging time with the Triple-A affiliates for the Yankees, Blue Jays and Phillies. He reached the Majors with Philadelphia in September, tossing a pair of scoreless innings out of their bullpen in the season’s final month.
In 52 innings between those three Triple-A clubs, Nittoli turned in a 3.81 ERA with a stout 30.8% strikeout rate and a similarly impressive 6.7% walk rate. He’s not a flamethrower, as his average 93 mph heater in the big leagues has been about a half mile per hour slower than the leaguewide average. That said, Nittoli still has plus strikeout and walk rates throughout his minor league career, including parts of three Triple-A seasons. He also has a minor league option year remaining, so if the Cubs select him to the 40-man roster at any point, he can be shuttled between Iowa and Chicago in 2023 without needing to first clear waivers.
The Cubs have had a quiet offseason on the bullpen front, which is line with recent trends for them. The front office has generally eschewed large-scale, costly additions since the ill-fated signing of Craig Kimbrel. Thus far, Chicago’s lone big league addition has been a one-year, $2.8MM deal for veteran Brad Boxberger. Nittoli, meanwhile, will join a growing list of non-roster invitees hoping to win a spot in a generally inexperienced Cubs ’pen; Chicago has also added right-hander Nick Neidert and southpaws Ryan Borucki, Roenis Elias and Eric Stout on non-roster deals this winter.