Littell has appeared in parts of five big league seasons, all with either the Twins or Giants. The 27-year-old has had something of a rollercoaster career, with wild year-to-year swings in his ERA. He’s twice posted a sub-3.00 mark, however, most recently with the 2021 Giants, for whom he logged a 2.92 earned run average with a 25% strikeout rate, 9.5% walk rate and 46.9% ground-ball rate while averaging 95 mph on his heater.
Unfortunately, Littell wasn’t able to replicate that success in 2022. He logged 44 1/3 innings out of the Giants’ bullpen but was tagged for a 5.08 ERA with noticeable drops in strikeout rate (20.5%) and fastball velocity (94.4 mph).
Littell’s struggles boiled over into a late-season incident where he had some words for manager Gabe Kapler upon being pulled from a relief appearance, which prompted a heated conversation between the two in the dugout tunnel shortly thereafter. Littell apologized for the behavior, noting that he was more frustrated with himself for his performance than anything else. Nonetheless, that proved his final game with the Giants, who optioned him to Triple-A the next day and outrighted him off the 40-man roster following the season. He elected to become a minor league free agent.
All in all, Littell has pitched 169 2/3 innings in the Majors with a 4.08 ERA, 21% strikeout rate, 8.3% walk rate and 42.8% ground-ball rate. He has 3.067 years of Major League service time, so if the Rangers select his contract to the big league roster at any point, he’ll be controllable through at least the 2025 season (and, depending on the timing of that promotion, perhaps through the 2026 campaign). He’d need to find the consistency that has eluded him to this point in his career for those additional years of control to prominently come into play, but Littell has shown at multiple points in the past that he has the potential to be a quality bullpen arm.