Crew adds lefty Swindle to fold in 'pen
Reliever posted a slim 1.58 ERA in 194 innings in Minors
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers added to their stable of left-handed relievers on Tuesday when they signed the soft-tossing R.J. Swindle to a Major League contract for 2009.Swindle, 25, was a 14th-round Draft pick of the Red Sox in 2004 and debuted in the Major Leagues briefly last season with the Phillies, making three appearances in July for the World Series champions. He was charged with four earned runs in 4 2/3 innings. The Brewers were more impressed with Swindle's Minor League numbers over the past four years, including his 10.4 strikeouts and 1.1 walks per nine innings pitched. In 194 Minor League innings for the Red Sox, Yankees and Phillies farm clubs, Swindle has a 226-to-25 strikeouts-to-walks ratio and a 1.58 ERA. The native of Vancouver pitched last summer for Team Canada at the Beijing Olympics, and he's currently working in the Venezuelan Winter League. Swindle posted a 3.17 ERA in his first 13 appearances for Magallanes with 17 strikeouts and three walks. "He gets left-handed hitters out," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "He's more of a situational guy, not necessarily a full-inning guy. But he's a guy that we feel can get people out."
Swindle joins Mitch Stetter as the only left-handed relievers on Milwaukee's roster, though the door remains slightly open for Brian Shouse to return. Melvin said the team was "not sure" about striking a deal with Shouse, 40, who is seeking a two-year contract. The Brewers have only been open to offer a one-year deal.Swindle's style is somewhat similar to Shouse's despite their differing statures (Shouse is listed at 5-foot-10 and 196 pounds; Swindle at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds). Swindle throws a variety of pitches from different arm angles, including a 55-mph curveball. His fastball tops out in the 84-85-mph range. Swindle is believed to have agreed to a split contract that pays the Major League minimum salary -- $400,000 in 2009 -- if he remains in the big leagues. He has two Minor League options remaining. Tracy Paul Hunt, Swindle's agent, said the Brewers were among three "serious contenders," with six other teams, including the Phillies, offering Minor League deals with an invitation to attend Spring Training. "We wanted a 40-man roster spot and the Brewers stepped up," Hunt said. The Brewers are working to fill holes in the bullpen left by free agents Eric Gagne, Guillermo Mota and Shouse and more recently by Salomon Torres, who announced his intent to retire. The Brewers sent Torres the necessary paperwork to make that intent official, but Torres has not yet filled it out and returned it. Melvin did slam the door shut Tuesday on one rumor that the Brewers were interested in 39-year-old Japanese left-hander Ken Takahashi. "We're not involved with any Japanese players," Melvin said. The Brewers have 36 players on the 40-man roster, including Torres.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.