Rumor: The Cubs Are Interested in Outfielder Ryan Sweeney in a Matt Garza or Ryan Dempster Deal

This rumor season has been surprisingly light on the head-scratcher types, probably based on the fact that the Cubs are obvious sellers, and that the pieces the Cubs will sell are fairly easy to identify. This time of year, though, always brings out some strange rumors – some that you can instantly shoot down, and others that make you think.

Here’s at least one head scratcher for you, from the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman, and it actually is making me do some thinking:

One baseball insider suggested the Red Sox are discussing a deal involving outfielder Ryan Sweeney, who will become more expendable once Jacoby Ellsbury returns to action soon after the All-Star break, and the Chicago Cubs are one possible destination. The Cubs are believed to be listening to offers for two of their starting pitchers: Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster. Sweeney would have to be part of a much larger package if either of those pitchers, particularly Garza, went to the Red Sox.

First, I want to defend Silverman a bit here. To his credit, he appropriately concludes the thought with the correct caveat that Sweeney, alone, ain’t netting the Red Sox Garza or Dempster, especially Garza.

Second, it reads to me like Silverman isn’t speculating here. Instead, it reads to me like Silverman is saying that his source told him (1) Sweeney is being discussed in trade talks, and (2) at least one of those possibly interested teams is the Cubs.

But, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher. Setting aside the fact that, in a deal involving Sweeney and the pitchers, the Cubs would primarily be looking to pick up prospects, does Sweeney make sense for the Cubs?

Sweeney is just 27, but he’s already in his second year of arbitration, and will be a free agent after 2013. He’s cheap, making just $1.75 million this year, and can play all over the outfield, but he’s also relatively unproductive. This year, he’s hitting just .283/.319/.400, though for his career, his OBP is usually higher (.340) (and his SLG is lower (.381)).

This could be a situation where Theo and Jed see a guy who might have particular success in Wrigley Field (which does play better for lefties). But, even if that’s true, why would they be looking to acquire a 27-year-old outfielder right now? Well, Sweeney could be an inexpensive gap-bridger to the young outfielders – think Albert Almora and Jorge Soler types, or even Brett Jackson if he takes another year, or doesn’t develop at all – and he could also be an upside play. Maybe he takes another step forward this and next year, and the Cubs just picked up an inexpensive but valuable player. The Cubs may not be interested in giving Tony Campana a full-time shot in the second half or in 2013, and they may not believe in guys like Dave Sappelt or Jae-Hoon Ha.

Consider this, as well: Sweeney is not a game-changer. But he might be slightly more expensive than a typical bench pick-up for a playoff bound team. So a team like the Cubs might have more interest in him than other possible trade partners, and they might look to cash in on the soon-to-be very crowded Boston outfield.

So, that is all to say: I could see reasons the Cubs might have interest in Sweeney as a complementary piece in a deal, but, until we learn more, it’s still something of a head-scratcher. For one thing, there isn’t a spot for him right now, with Alfonso Soriano in left, David DeJesus in center, and Bryan LaHair in right. Does interest in Sweeney portend the imminent movement of one of those guys? If one is dealt this month, picking up Sweeney would sure give the Cubs plenty of cover not to rush Brett Jackson up to the bigs. And, then, after 2013, if the Cubs don’t like him, Sweeney’s gone. Heck, if they don’t like him after this year he can be gone.

It’s worth reminding ourselves: when these guys make a deal, many of the pieces can surprise you. Picking up Sweeney could actually prove a brilliant stroke, depending on what the related moves are. I think we can be sure that Sweeney isn’t going to be the center piece in any deal, but he should get you thinking about what else could be on the horizon.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

176 responses to “Rumor: The Cubs Are Interested in Outfielder Ryan Sweeney in a Matt Garza or Ryan Dempster Deal”

  1. LWeb23

    I was expecting this rumor to come from that Carfado guy. You know, the same guy who wanted Garza and Vitters for Youk or something ridiculous like that.

    1. Cubs Dude

      Ha… If it was Cafardo it would be Sweeney for Castro. Cafardo is such an idiot/dbag..

  2. Ben

    This is definitely a head-scratcher to me. Bjax has nearly 600 ABs at AAA between this year and last year. I’m not sure what another 200-300 does for him. At some point, he needs to sink or swim at the major league level.

    If we are just taking Sweeney to help the Sox move a piece they no longer want, that’s fine. But as an asset with any value – that I just can’t understand. Just my opinion.

    1. MichiganGoat

      I think there are some concerns over BJax and they might want to keep him in AAA to either increase his trade value or work on the K rate.

    2. Noah

      The question with Jackson is if the K problems are fixable or not. If they are fixable, keep him in the minors as long as possible. I’ve seen at least one of the major websites/publications write that one of the major influences on his Ks are that he will take pitches he can drive early in counts. But as long as someone has a flaw that legitimately should be able to be worked on in the minors, they should stay in the minors.

      With that said, if the Ks are just an unfixable part of Jackson’s game, by all means bring him up and see if he can swim or not.

      Also, I have no interest whatsoever in Ryan Sweeney.

  3. Jared

    we dont need another mediocre outfielder man….i would much rather have middlebrooks

    1. Jared

      i get that im just saying id rather get 1 or 2 top teir, or very good major league ready prospects than getting sweeney and then a bunch of average prospects…because once sweeney is in there that takes away from how good of prospects were gonna get

      1. bbmoney

        Not neccesarily. If memory serves Boston is trying to avoid paying the luxury tax and dumping even just a $2M (est.) salary for 2013 could be worth just throwing in a 4th or 5th OF. Could be wrong there, but I know they were working like crazy to save a few million this off season.

        1. Jared

          i hope ur right, that would be fine

  4. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    Who would be more likely to go to Boston? Dempster or Garza?

  5. Wilbur

    My question is, “Should we also be discussing the alternative perspective that it is the Red Sox who are pushing Sweeney and Cubs are the reluctant recipient due to his age, mediocre performance, and what they cannot get done (trade Soriano)?”

  6. Joey Collins

    Yeah makes you kinda wonder what the thought process is here. I would assume this would only happen if one of our current three starters is about to be traded. If thats the case then i can see it as a possibility, but he’d have to be really cheap, like thrown into an already set garza trade just to clear space for Boston as brett said. if those are true then why not? Give Bjax a little more time and us a little help. if jackson doesnt look good in spring training, or atleast isn’t demanding the spot yet, then maybe sweeney is the answer until this time next year. With his age, playing in Wrigley, and moving out of the AL east i would imagine his numbers might be significantly better this time next year and be more valuable to us than he is to boston right now. Trade an outfielder for prospects now, pick up sweeney for next to nothing, have a player that can both push Jackson and act as insurance if he doesnt pan out, and maybe get a little return at the deadline next year.

  7. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    I personally am not a fan of the pitching prospects we can bring back in return for either (or both) from the Red Sox. I think they have alternatives, but not the pitching you would want in return.

  8. djriz

    If he comes over, it’s an audition to replace Reed or Tony next year or fill out the outfield after all the trades this year. The key is the cost. If he is a throw-in, or replaces the 3rd ‘backend’ prospect we would have recieved, fine. If it means the 1st prospect that comes over is of lesser value, then NO.
    We need as much potential impact as possible.
    If it’s for filler, I’ll agree with Ben’s comment above. Bring Jackson uo and see what he can do. If he fails, he fails. At least we’ll know.

    1. chirogerg

      how many times do baseball fans need to see that plan fail. Mike Trout, Anthony Rizzo, Julio Teheran, Matt Moore, Dellin Bentances, Zach Britton, Devin Mesoraco all failed miserably when the first came up. The list goes on and on and on. Do you really want to put Jackson, or Vitters for that matter, put through that.

      1. djriz

        and just maybe getting the ‘failure’ out of the way led to some of them becoming better for it. what better time to get low pressure experience than with this cub team.

        1. Serious Cubs Fan

          Vitters and Jackson do not look ready. I saw them both play a couple weeks ago and both chase awful pitches out of the zone and Vitters looks terrible out at third base. Vitters needs to develop his defense at 3rd base.

          1. Serious Cubs Fan

            Why bring Brett Jackson up if he is struggling to make contact against lesser competition? He still needs to prove himself. He looks lost at the plate, and his discipline at the plate is not great or major league ready. Jackson seems to struggle against the breaking ball mightily. Why bring both Vitters and Jackson up if they have not developed their approach at the plate enough to allow them to have success at the majors. They would be better served staying down this year and bringing them up next year and hoping for better years from both of them at the start of next year and gaining the extra year of control over both of them.

  9. someday...2015?

    So where gonna add on too our already utility player filled outfield? This would be a huge mistake unless you got a great prospect to come along with Sweeny. And that great prospect better be a pitcher. I doubt a Dempster for Sweeny and a prospect deal is even being considered… I sure hope it isn’t.

    1. Jared

      thats exactly my point and then even if we do get prospects they wont be as good as if they would be if they werent giving us sweeney too

  10. Beer Baron

    He kind of strikes me as a slightly better, left-handed version of Joe Mather. Or maybe a slightly younger, but not quite as good version of David DeJesus. Either way, we pretty much have that versitle, ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ outfielder guy covered. Although I’m assuming if this ever came to fruition it would be in part because the Cubs included a guy like Baker,Johnson, DeJesus or LaHair along with Garza/Dempster and needed a guy to take over that role. Also, if they need a back-up outfielder to play out the season, I’d be much happier promoting Sappelt since he is already on the 40 man and BJax just isn’t ready.

    1. rhino70

      I agree with this. Sweeney as a throw-in would make sense if any one of Baker, Johnson, DeJesus or LaHair were included in the trade to sweeten the prospect(s) coming back.

  11. Cedlandrum

    I said this the other day and I will say it again. I don’t like Boston’s system. It is not a great system. Outside of Boegarts and maybe Barnes, I don’t love there guys. In fact their pitching is almost as bad as the Cubs. They have some 10-20 guys but no one outside of Barnes and maybe Ranaudo are top 10 prospects.

    It is funny that Theo is known for having built great systems, but the Sox are not in much better shape system wise then the Cubs.

    1. Mick

      That’s not fair to say becuase they traded Reddick to the A’s for Bailey, Jed Lowrie to the Astros for Melancon, and promoted Middlebrooks, Nava, Doubront, and Morales. They’ve got Iglesias and Lavaranway waiting in the wings and a few high-end prospects in Bogaerts, Brentz, Barnes and Renaudo. Boston has a great system that’s produced high-caliber talent year in and year out so, I don’t understand why you’re not a fan.

      1. AB

        don’t forget the Gonzalez trade last year

        1. Mick

          …or a couple of off-seasons ago when they traded Masterson to Cleveland for Victor Martinez.

      2. Ryan G

        They have Bradley Jr who’s been making a ton of noise this season as well.

      3. Cedlandrum

        Let me tell you why it is fair. Would you say that Jim Hendry left the Cubs system kind of Meh? If so let me refresh your memory. In 2010 the Cubs promoted Starlin Castro, Andrew Cashner and Colvin made the team in the spring. Some analysts like Jim Callis said that if the Cubs hadn’t rushed Cashner and Castro the Cubs would have had the 2nd best system in baseball. Without those guys they were 10-12. Then the Cubs traded Archer, Lee, Chirinos and Guyer. That dropped them to like 18-20 range.

        Everyone was all up in arms about how poor our system was.

        The Red Sox had a good system the last few years 10-14 ranked but not great. Here is the deal. Reddick isn’t a prospect anymore just like Lowrie isn’t a prospect they both had too much service time. Just like you couldn’t consider Cashner a prospect anymore that they traded for Rizzo. So they came from the system. Great they did have success but I said they didn’t leave the system in great shape.

        Of the guys you mentioned, Morales came from Colorado so he isn’t a prospect and Nava is a 29 year old career minor leaguer. Iglesis is a all glove no hit player so his star has dropped dramatically. His bat never developed like it should have. Doubrant is a fine young player but not a prospect anymore he graduated.

        I said Barnes and Boegarts are good prospects, but they are the only two that sparkle for them. Bradley Jr. has been incredible. He might be a top 100 prospect. But after that there isn’t a great arm that you would want.

        So again right now I don’t love there system. They might have used some good players to trade or have promoted some of their better players. Lavarway is a guy without a position. So you wouldn’t want those guys.

        So I mean I can boil it down like this. With Middlebrooks they were a 12-16 farm system with out him they are a 16-19 system about the same as Cubs. It doesn’t matter who they have promoted because their system doesn’t match up with what we need unless they are going to give us Doubrant. They don’t have elite arms and are very unlikely to part with Barnes….. So I don’t like their system.

        1. Cedlandrum

          sorry this is a rambling all over post. Kids running around and I’m trying to get stuff done and post. Hopefully my thought comes through though.

  12. DowntownLBrown

    I would really hope to either get top flight pitching and 3B/OF prospects for Demp and Garza…would rather not have sweeney at all.

  13. Luke

    I can’t see Sweeney as anything other than a pure throw in. That said, as throw ins go, he isn’t a terrible one.

    1. MightyBear

      i agree with Luke

    2. Doug

      Agreed. The question is what do the Sox have to offer for Garza? Any chance this would be part of a multiple team deal? I just don’t see Boston having the pitching prospects we would need.

  14. EQ76

    hold on, who’s weenie are we after? oh.. ryan’s weenie!…ok..

    1. MightyBear

      worst joke ever

    2. hansman1982

      pfft, BN is a well-respected, learned portal of information. You can take your sophmoric antics elsewhere. I SAY GOOD-DAY, SIR!

      1. MightyBear

        I’m not above sophomore antics, I just prefer that they are funny.

        1. EQ76

          haha.. yeah, probably my worst joke this year, that’s for sure. On a serious note, is Ryan any relation to MIke or Mark Sweeney?

    3. Carew


  15. Phaedrus

    To what extent does the Cubs leverage increase even more due to the fact that they’re potentially trading 3 starting pitchers (Dempster, Garza and Maholm)? For instance, the Blue Jays acquiring Ryan Dempster means much less if the Red Sox turn around and acquire Garza.

    How does this type of consideration play into the deal making?

  16. HawkClone

    I actually went to high school with Sweeney, so this is extremely exciting to me from a personal standpoint. However, while he has a great deal of upside with the bat and is really a tremendous outfielder who I wouldn’t mind seeing in right field, his health has been an issue and I worry that would continue to be a problem in the future.

    1. Whiteflag


      That’s really cool.

  17. lou brock lives

    Hey Assman22 how did that Ted Lilly trade work out for the Cubs – deal done with your favorite Ned Colletti ? Trust me on this one Ned may have made a few mistakes signing free agents during his tenure at LA but most of his deals have worked out in his favor & he never gives up the best players from his system. I would tread very carefully if I was Theo in dealing with the Dodgers.
    I would deal Garza to the BoSox for RHP Barnes, C Lavarnway, & LF Travis Shaw – check out this guys numbers in High A ball – we need more left handed hitting pop & OBP.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      Wasn’t Colleti the GM already when the Dodgers got the Cubs to both give them Greg Maddux for the stretch run ,em>AND take Cesar Izturis off of their hands?

  18. lou brock lives

    Trade Dempster to Reds for LHP Cingrani – could be ready for rotation next year – this kid just drafted last year is killing it in AA for Cincy. Great control & serious low WHIP.

  19. TSB

    A “stop-gap” player seems to denote that it will still be rebuilding seasons until the winning teams members are ready. Why trade the most in-demand Cub players (Garza and Dempster) for a fill-in? If management thinks the Cubs won’t contend until Soler, Almora, and Jackson are ready, trade for prospects, and play what players you have currently as a “stop-gap“.

  20. Cubs Dude

    To me Sweeney would be absolutely worthless to the Cubs. But could it be more of the Cubs taking on his salary to help them out? The Red Sox seem like they are severly cash strapped, and being cheap asses. Just a thought..

  21. Serious Cubs Fan

    I would not ryan sweeney. Give me prospects, not a veteran who has no almost no real value. The time i would want sweeney was if it came down to the cubs get 2-3 top prospects and the red sox gave us a choice of either taking sweeney or a low level not great upside throw in a trade. Then I would take sweeney in that case only if he had an extra year on his contract that was team friendly, because then if he comes out and has a decent year next year like Dejesus then you might be able to get a decent prospect for him if you dealt him at the trade deadline next year. Just use him as a filler this year if you can deal soriano, to keep Brett jackson down because he is not ready yet and then just trade Sweeney next year if you could package him with another player for a decent prospect if he has a good year.

  22. Kyle

    Sweeney makes a ton of sense to me if it’s a free “We need the roster spot so will you take him” sort of deal.

    He’s cheap and can fill in an outfield spot once Soriano and LaHair are dealt in a few weeks. Jackson is nowhere near ready and isn’t really a corner outfielder anyway.

    I imagine Sweeney will fill the role Dave Sappelt was going to before he had an awful season at Iowa.

    1. Cubs Dude

      To me Sweeney making $1.75 mill. doesn’t seem cheap at all. Obviously, compared to a guy like Sori he’s cheap. But I would rather have a guy making the minimum and gaining experience than Sweeney.

  23. Carew

    If the cubs were to get Sweeney, maybe it would be a part of a 3-team trade?

  24. mudge

    I am outraged and disappointed about any and all trades being considered.

  25. gutshot5820

    To be honest, I’m not on board with all this cheap outfielder as a bridge gap to who….? What if we wait four yrs and most of the prospects do not pan out as in the Hendry yrs. Yes, this can happen and does happen all the time. What about our payroll, what are we doing with the money saved and the high ticket prices? They can’t spend on amateur drafting anymore. They have enough money next yr to buy an impact centerfielder, impact third basemen, closer and a TOR pitcher. THEY should be the bridge to the young prospects. We should NOT be waiting for prospects to pan out. Prospects should be there to fill gaps and trade for contending every year.

    1. JoeyCollins

      A bridge gap until Theo has time to straighten out this crap shoot. They will spend in FA and a number of those positions will probably be aquired that way, but until we have a core of reliable players (i think were getting there with Castro, Rizzo, Shark, Wood, and a few others) you cant spend crazy money. They are not going to be able to sign 5+ FA that will fill all the holes that are there. So you take a year or two allow the prospects you have to develop and once you know whats there you fill the remaining holes. If Vitters ends up being the answer at third, Jackson in the OF, and one or two of our pitchers develop we can spend more money on less positions. i’d rather spend 70mil a year on 3-4 top talent guys then on 5-7 cheaper FA’s.

      1. Lou

        Yes but the original poster does make some sense. What if the braves decide to let McCann go via FA? You’re saying you’d rather have Soto there? Unless the Cubs obtain a C prospect via the trade deadline, not sure who they have in the system? What about SP? Yes the Cubs acquired lots of prospects in SP from the 2012 draft and some could turn out, but listen to what I just said, we’re hoping some turn out–meaning no can’t miss prospects. Now with the 2013 draft, the Cubs could draft a top notch SP, but do you want everything riding on him to piece together a rotation of Smardjzia, Wood and a bunch of other guys. This year’s FA class is loaded with SP like one we may not see for a few years. To me it starts with SP.

  26. Rob

    I think Brett’s point, which seems to be missed, is what Sweeney represents. If you have ever bought a car off the lot, even a new one, the salesmen might “throw in” 3 free months of XM radio, or upgraded floor mats. That does not mean you went to the dealership looking for XM radio or upgraded floor mats – you still went looking for a new car, and you are getting one – you are just getting a little something else for your trouble. That’s what this would be – Sweeney = upgraded floor mats.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      Great analogy.

    2. Whiteflag


    3. Beer Baron

      His agent will undoubtedly bring that up at his next arbitration hearing

      1. hansman1982

        I think his agent will try to peddle him as more than floor mats in the arb hearing.

        1. Ogyu

          Yep. Sweeney is more like discounted undercoating.

  27. Crockett

    I believe any talk of Sweeney would be because either A) The Cubs have a taker for Soriano. or B) The Cubs have a taker for DeJesus/LaHair.

    In either of those scenarios and with the Cubs being really, really bad, Sweeney makes a lot of sense.

    1. terencem

      Sweeney makes sense with the younger, cheaper direction that the Cubs are going with their major league acquisitions. He doesn’t make the team any better and isn’t really a guy they need in any sort of long term scenario. I don’t understand why they’d be interested in him even as in a throw-in unless Soriano, LaHair, and DeJesus are going away in the very near future.

  28. gutshot5820

    If the Cubs have a $50 million payroll next yr and field a losing team with the high ticket prices, this is not going to go well with the fans. That would mean the Ricketts are basically pocketing the money.

    1. JoeyCollins

      Or spending a few 100mil on a stadium renovation, a spring training facility, the triangle building, improved minor league and advanced scouting, and a number of other things that need vastly improved but dont swing a bat.

      1. Lou

        But do the Cubs need a better spring training facility?

        1. JoeyCollins

          Need? probably not, but that place is a gold mine and the nicer it is the more money they have to invest in the team/other projects. And when the city is willing to put 99mil towards it then you do it.

          1. Lou

            The city is putting 99 million towards a spring training facility? So if they don’t need to renovate that then there is some $$ to spend on FAs, isn’t there?

  29. koyiehillsucks

    I’m still against trading Garza, why trade a solid #2 for a pitching prospect which most likely will not pan out?

    1. hansman1982

      It appears at this stage in the game that Garza is not highly motivated to sign a reasonable extension to stay in Chicago and every day that passes decreases his trade value even more.

      By not trading him the best you hope for is him turning down arbitration after next year and you get 1 draft pick. By trading him you are hoping to get (in effect) a top-10 draft pick, a supplemental draft pick and a 2nd round draft pick. Out of those three you hope to get one guy to replace Garza but with 5-6 years of team control.