Though the team hasn’t made a formal announcement to this point, the Royals have signed veteran reliever Anthony Swarzak to a minor league contract. The move is reflected on the transactions log at MLB.com, and Swarzak is listed on the roster with the organization’s top affiliate in Omaha. The Royals also inked former Rockies, Rangers and Cubs right-hander Eddie Butler earlier this month and did so without a formal announcement. Butler has tossed four innings in Triple-A with the Storm Chasers already.
Swarzak, 35, didn’t pitch in the Majors in 2019 but returned to the big leagues with the D-backs in 2021. It was a brief and unsuccessful pairing, as the well-traveled righty yielded five runs on seven hits and a walk with four strikeouts through just 4 2/3 innings. Arizona designated Swarzak for assignment on April 18 and released him a week later. Prior to that brief run with the D-backs, Swarzak’s most recent big league stint was a solid run with the 2019 Braves, during which he tossed 39 1/3 innings of 4.31 ERA ball.
While he’s pitched for nine Major League teams across parts of 11 seasons and accrued more than eight years of big league service time, Swarzak remarkably hasn’t spent consecutive seasons with a team since 2013-14 with the Twins, who selected him in the second round of the 2004 draft. Swarzak spent five seasons in Minnesota but has since spent time with the Indians, Yankees, Brewers, White Sox, Mets, Mariners, Braves and D-backs. If he makes it to the Majors with the Royals, they’ll be his tenth MLB club and his fourth AL Central team. In 645 2/3 big league innings, Swarzak has a 4.36 ERA with a 17.8 percent strikeout rate and a 7.3 percent walk rate, although his strikeout rate has spiked considerably since moving to short relief stints in the second half of his career.
As for 30-year-old Butler, he ranked as one of the game’s best pitching prospects with the Rockies after being selected with the No. 46 overall pick back in 2012. He posted strong numbers up through Double-A before struggling a bit in Triple-A, and his work at the MLB level has produced just a 5.80 ERA in 263 2/3 innings. Butler has since pitched in the KBO and on the independent circuit. He was slated to open the 2021 season with the Atlantic League’s Southern Maryland Blue Crabs before the Royals signed him earlier this month.