The Braves signed righty Matt Swarmer to a minor league contract over the weekend. The team didn’t formally make an announcement, but the transaction log at MiLB.com indicates he signed a couple days back. Swarmer actually already made his spring debut with the Braves in yesterday’s Grapefruit League contest, tossing one-third of an inning in relief of righty Bryce Elder.
Swarmer, 29, made his big league debut with the Cubs in 2022 when he tossed 34 innings of 5.03 ERA ball over the life of 11 appearances (five starts, six relief outings). He fanned a solid 23.5% of his opponents but issued far too many walks (13.1%) during that brief MLB sample. Swarmer’s big league tenure started with a flourish, as he tossed consecutive quality starts and held the Brewers and Cardinals to a combined two earned runs on seven hits and three walks with 11 punchouts in 12 innings. Over his next 22 frames, however, he was tagged for a 6.95 ERA. The Cubs outrighted him off the roster back in July, and he became a minor league free agent after the season.
A 19th-round pick by the Cubs back in 2016, Swarmer pitched across three levels — High-A, Double-A and Triple-A — in his first full professional season back in 2017, although the results were generally shaky, as one might expect for a pitcher rising so quickly through the system. He had a nice season between High-A and Double-A in 2018 before being hit hard in 2019 and 2021 at the Triple-A level. (There were no minor league games in 2020, of course.)
The 2022 season was the first in which Swarmer found some success in Triple-A. He tossed 81 1/3 frames with the Cubs’ Iowa affiliate, notching a 3.87 ERA with a 24.9% strikeout rate and a 9.5% walk rate. Swarmer doesn’t throw hard (90.6 mph average fastball in last year’s debut season) but has typically posted average or better strikeout and walk rates throughout his minor league career.
Given the manner in which the Braves have thinned out their system on the trade market over the past calendar year — Kyle Muller, Tucker Davidson and Freddy Tarnok are among the upper-minors arms they’ve moved — it’s sensible to see them add some depth in the form of a minor league veteran who had Triple-A success and made his big league debut in 2022.