Swarzak was given a minor league deal back on January with a non-roster invitation to Spring Training. He parlayed that opportunity into a spot on the Opening Day roster and became a surprising success story during the first half of an otherwise forgettable season. The journeyman and former starter increased his velocity by 3-4 mph and was downright dominant at times, opening the season with a 19 2/3 inning scoreless streak and posting a 2.23 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings overall.
Where the prospect of trading Tommy Kahnle was contentious given Kahnle’s age and the prospect of him remaining a dominant reliever until the White Sox next contention window, cashing in on Swarzak is a no-brainer. This season’s success has been unexpected and helped the White Sox get through injuries to expected contributors Nate Jones and Zach Putnam and later trades of Kahnle and David Robertson, but he’s also 31 years old and has zero track record of sustained success. Given his unexpected rise, the fact that he came to the White Sox for nothing, as well as the volatility of relievers, getting anything remotely valuable in exchange for him prior to the July 31 trade deadline is a bonus.
What, exactly, the White Sox got in return is the question. Cordell is a 25-year-old outfielder/utility type who is ranked No. 17 in Milwaukee’s farm system, per MLB Pipeline. The Brewers acquired him last summer as the PTBNL in the trade that sent Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress to the Texas Rangers. He’s played all three outfield spots, as well as first and third base during his minor league career, and is hitting .284/.349/.506 at the hitter friendly environment of Triple-A Colorado Springs this season.
He’s likely nothing more than a fourth outfielder type long term, but having Swarzak go from NRI to trade deadline asset was an unexpected bonus for the White Sox. And they were smart to cash in.
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