Chicago Cubs Re-Sign Ryan Sweeney to Two-Year Contract (Plus 2016 Option)

ryan sweeney cubsRyan Sweeney started the 2013 season as a Boston Red Sox roster casualty, and then a minor league pick-up by the Chicago Cubs. He ended the season an intriguing outfield option going forward, but an impending free agent.

Not content to see Sweeney walk, the Cubs today locked him up to a two-year, $3.5 million deal, per Bob Nightengale (UPDATE: Many others confirm.) The deal also comes with a $2.5 million 2016 option ($500K buyout), presumably of the club variety. Sweeney will earn $1.5 million in each of 2014 and 2015.

Despite an atypically low BABIP (.288, when he’s usually around .320), Sweeney posted a solid .266/.324/.448 in 212 plate appearances this year, good for a 109 OPS+. The lefty played mostly center field, but can move all over the outfield. Sweeney is just 28.

On first glance, this is a fantastic signing by the Cubs. While Sweeney was technically a minor league signee last year, that had more to do with timing, arbitration, and a Red Sox roster crunch than it had to do with Sweeney’s ability as a quality bench player. For $1.5 million per year, Sweeney need not be anything more than a good fourth outfielder – something he should be in spades – to be a value to the Cubs. Moreover, should the Cubs suffer an injury or fail to land a more notable bat in center field this offseason, Sweeney could be the left-handed part of a relatively productive platoon. As a worst case scenario, that’s not all that bad.

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

148 responses to “Chicago Cubs Re-Sign Ryan Sweeney to Two-Year Contract (Plus 2016 Option)”

  1. MichiganGoat

    Very good signing at that price he could be the CF starter next year.

  2. BlameHendry

    #CHAMPIONSHIP2014

  3. Jon

    This is our big offseason move

  4. Kyle

    He’s an OK fourth outfielder being paid OK fourth outfielder money.

    Really nice job of finding him for free last year. It was always hard to justify why he didn’t have a MLB contract.

  5. Blublud

    This is a great move by the FO. Sweeney should he able to easily out play this contract. He must want to be a Cub also, because I can’t help but to think he could have done better on the market, even if only slightly.

  6. Diamond Don

    We need more Ryan Sweeney type players on the Cubs. He will be the Cub’s starting CF next year and keep the position until Almora is ready! Great signing!

  7. mr.mac

    Nothing at all against Ryan Sweeney, but I look forward to the day when this isn’t something to get excited about. As things stand today…woo hoo!

    1. Blublud

      These type of signing are always good. Even the “Championship contenders” make these kinds of signings.

      1. MichiganGoat

        Last year we made a signing like this and you hated it with Scheirholtz, but yes you point is correct. This and other like it are the value signings that fill a roster.

  8. willis

    I do like Sweeney. He will be servicable. Glad to be keeping him.

  9. Blackhawks1963

    Ryan Sweeney is a dime a dozen journeyman. At the zenith of his ability he is a spare outfielder. I like the signing, but lets not get carried away over the significance of this move for crying out loud.

    1. waittilthisyear

      not a dime a dozen, a $3.5 million dollars a one

      1. Eternal Pessimist

        …or 420 Millions dimes-a-dozen.

    2. hansman1982

      It appears the “carrying away” is being done by you alone.

    3. Chef Brian

      God forbid anyone gets excited or gives the FO credit for a decent move. What this site really needs is more killjoys, and people to temper enthusiasm. Lets not enjoy the team that most of us spent our lives rooting for.

      1. ssckelley

        Right, we should all celebrate and not question any moves. This place would be much more fun to visit if we all had the same opinion.

        1. Chef Brian

          Where did I say don’t question moves?! But you do a nice job of proving my point. Lets argue about any point, no matter how small. Its always fun watching people be contrarions, and bicker. Well done.

  10. Steve Ontiveros' Mustache

    I’m torn on this deal. On the one hand, he is a great 4th outfielder, and is an awesome pick up for the money. On the other hand, as long as he is a starting outfielder, its admitting there will be no punch to the lineup, and we can expect an improvement in 2014 to only lose 91 games.

    50% good signing, 50% grumble grumble

  11. Matty Ice

    If he is being brought back to be the 4th outfielder great. If it’s to start then I’m shaking my head.

    1. Professor Snarks

      Maybe they brought him back to ‘flip’ him at mid-season.

      1. When the Music's Over

        Good point. There is always a good chance for that to be the case.

      2. davidalanu

        Depending on other off-season moves, he could be brought back to make Schierholtz a trade chip. Schierholtz may have a bit more pop (although 2013 was a bit of an outlier for him), but Sweeney gives you more defensive flexibility. Probably about the same player in terms of value to the team, and Sweeney will be about $1 million cheaper.

        1. jt

          “he could be brought back to make Schierholtz a trade chip”
          –davidalanu
          yeah
          less pop, more OBP
          easier to spell

  12. another JP

    Great signing from the standpoint of providing good value for an OF that’s simply holding down the fort until Soler & Almora & the rest of the cavalry arrive. Not holding my breath but getting Navarro back would be a nice start to the post-season… the big FA acquisition will be getting Girardi, of course.

  13. themusicbox

    For the money; not bad as he has the capabilities of being a productive bench player/4th outfielder. Is this a sign that the FO will not be persuing a more capable bat?

  14. Aaron

    Ryan Sweeney. Good value…sure. Flip-able asset for minor league players at trade deadline time= no. Can be a descent backup outfielder with the glove and bat = yes. Are the Cubs a much better team in 2014 with Sweeney on it = not really.

    1. kubphan82

      They traded Dejesus so they need Sweeney… I’ll take what Sweeney has to offer in the 4th OF role over Dejesus…I believe that Sweeney outperformed Dejesus this year, Is younger, and while he doesn’t have the Dejesus track record he is trending up.

      1. Eternal Pessimist

        Now we just need Sweeney and Dejesus to have a wife swap and the plan will be complete…though I would bet Dejesus also has a knock-out wife.

  15. When the Music's Over

    It will be interesting to see how this signing interplays/impacts Lake’s role. Most people believe Lake is a 4th OF. If Sweeney is signed to be the 4th OF, does that mean Lake goes into 2014 penciled in as a starter? Does Lake go into the mega super utility role? Something else?

    1. When the Music's Over

      ….and perhaps this increases the likelihood he get’s traded.

      1. cub2014

        I know I am optimistic, but the Cubs aren’t that far away.
        Here are 7 moves that will only cost us 1 top prospect.
        Only 4 small and 2 major signings and 1 trade:
        1. sign Girardi
        2. resign Navarro or another backup
        3. resign Gregg or some depth at closer
        (who knows about Strop?)
        4. resign baker or sign someone like Arroyo for starter depth
        All the above are probable whether the names are changed.

        Here are the 3 big moves:
        1. sign Choo (while we wait on Almora)
        2. sign Tanaka
        3. trade for Gonzalez
        these 3 moves you loose (Arrieta,Schierholtz & Vogelbach?)
        Bring up:
        1. Baez to take over for Olt or Barney
        2. Bryant to take over for Lake
        3. Villanueva or Watkins or Alcantera
        to take over for Barney. If Olt does well next year
        he cold be moved to 2nd

        That would be a playoff team.

        1. Voice of Reason

          What is your starting rotation?

          Who is playing second and third?

          Gregg is your closer?

          Bryant is brought up during season and plays third?

          1. Voice of Reason

            Oh yeah, the rockies are going to want a heck of a lot more than that for cargo.

            1. cub2014

              Actually there have been a couple reports that
              CarGo can be had for; Arrieta, Vogelbach and
              MLB hitter and minor league pitcher. The question
              is are the Cubs willing to make that trade?

              1. mjhurdle

                The Cubs would make that trade in 2 seconds. The Rockies wouldn’t even pick up the phone for that trade.
                If CarGo was a Cub, would the Cubs trade him for that? no way in heck.
                Also, the Denver Post had an article not to long ago where the GM of the Rockies said that they are not entertaining offers for either Tulo or Cargo.

                1. cub2014

                  so mj, based on your expert analysis
                  that isn’t nearly enough, so what would
                  you have to add?

                  1. mjhurdle

                    Im no expert, but i do know that it will take more than a platoon OF, an inconsistent, unproven possible bust prospect pitcher, and a non-consensus top 100 prospect for one of the best OFs in the National League.

                    Again, if the Cubs had CarGo, and they traded him and got back Arrieta, Scheirholtz, and Vogelbach, im not sure there would be a single happy Cub fan.

                    But if we are dreaming, then yes, lets do it!

                  2. jt

                    almora

                2. Jason Powers

                  Reading the Rockies blog, they are itching to get rid of Dexter Fowler or Cuddyer (if the prospects are obviously right.)

                  For Fowler: the want at least a 3rd SP ready to go plus 2 good prospects (top 200). At least that a couple of bloggers opinion.

                  Cuddyer: more about selling high. Or transfering him to 1B for the remaining time in Colorado..

                  1. jt

                    I don’t know that much about Fowler
                    He is set to make $7.35M in ’14 and will get a raise in ’15 arbitration.
                    Stats are an interesting read and suggest a Money Ball type of player. Try reading them as if you were Billy Beane and establish a value as a player and a worth to your team.
                    How many PA’s does he get with The Cubs? I’d give him as many PA’s as a RHH but not so from the left side. I’d have some trust in as a LHH but would platoon him at times. That leaves him with about 350 to 400 PA’s for the above money. OK, he is pretty good under those conditions and I’m fine with that. The #3 SP’er? I don’t go for that.

              2. Josh

                Ummm F*** Yeah! if that is all it takes. Vogelbach has potential but he is blocked by Rizzo. Arrieta is good but if we want to contend he is gonna be at the end of the rotation at this point. An MLB hitter? Idk who that would be but they can take anybody lol with the exception of Rizzo, and then throw in a back of the rotation guy from the minors. Doesn’t seem like enough though IMO.

          2. Matty Ice

            I believe when he said he was optimistic he meant to type unrealistic

          3. cub2014

            voice of reason, re-read my post.
            all position are covered. But here we go
            again:
            2B-3B we have this group to choose
            from: Olt Villanueva Baez Alcantera Watkins
            I think it safe to say to of these guys will hit
            in the bigs.
            2B-3B 1st half will be how we ended it:
            Barney-Murphy-Valbuena

            Actually I said Gregg or someone similar
            to add closer depth (Gregg was pretty good
            this year)
            OF- Lake and Sweeney 1st half Bryant by end of the
            year.

            We know the FO is going after Tanaka.
            Many reports they are interested in Choo.
            So that only leaves trading for one more
            bat (seems reasonable to me).

            Starting rotation I have covered that.

            1. MichiganGoat

              Gregg was good for part of his season them he returned to being Gregg we not start the season with a names closer but in time somebody will settle into the role.

              1. cub2014

                Gregg blew 4 or 5 saves all year?
                Strop has had 9 save opportunities
                and he has only converted 3, that’s
                pretty scary.

        2. MichiganGoat

          Okay on your small moves:
          1-agreed but it’s not our choice
          2-Navarro will be looking for a starter gig and may cost more than we want to pay for a backup especially if we are considering McCann
          3-No to Gregg that horse is done
          4-I’m sure we will sign a 5/6th starter plenty choose from

          On your big moves:
          1-The Pence deal shows how expensive Choo will be, not sure if he’s worth it
          2-Tanaka is a good sign but the blind bid will make it a crapshoot
          3-Cargo will cost so much more than that, if that was on the table the Cuns would’ve already said yes.

          It’s nice to play GM but it never works like our dream.

          1. cub2014

            My point is pretty simple we know
            the Cubs will:
            1. sign a quality manager (they had better)
            2. sign a back up catcher
            3. sign bullpen help
            4. sign starter depth
            that leaves 3 long term pieces:

            I believe they have to sign a couple
            long term pieces. I am just asking for
            one more big league hitter (if his contract
            fits in the long term scheme). With the
            emergence of just 2 rookies. We are not
            that far away.

            1. Eternal pessemist

              I don’t feel you are really that far off (if you are talking 2015).

              1. Forget about gregg. He is pretty well done, and between your current major leaguers and up and coming minor leaguers i think they have enough and can spend on bigger need areas.
              2. Tanaka could be a great signing, but we just as easily could be blown out of the water by the NYY or Texas or …
              We need a number one, but a two year rental (Price) won’t cut it between his prospect and payroll costs. Hoping we get Tanaka and he outperforms
              We need one more big bat (or more if Baez doesn’t come up and crush in 2015 and Rizzo doesn’t get back to his old trajectory). Lots of wild-cards out there that could be all-stars one day…hope we don’t trade any of the top 4-5 until we have all our MLB positions filled out.

          2. Josh

            Yeah Cargo is locked up through 2017 on a cheap deal. No way he is available that easy. He won’t be traded

          3. jt

            “It’s nice to play GM but it never works like our dream.”
            –GM
            I have trouble tuning my air guitar. I’m much better on the air drums.

    2. Blackhawks1963

      I’m not convinced (yet) that Lake can hit major league pitching on a sustained basis. If he can win playing time then great, but I’m sure he won’t simply be handed a role.

    3. hansman1982

      That is interesting considering we have a RF that needs a platoon partner and Sweeney provides little confidence in his ability to his LHP.

      I think they’ll look to trade Lake this offseason.

  16. cubzforlife

    I have not heard from the cubs yet on season ticket prices, I’m guessing that adding Girardi might keep the fringe type on board. I can easily see 3 to 5 k dropping off. I believe the commitment will be earlier than ever to get an accurate count. And to see how many on the waiting list are serious. Can’t imagine a raise in prices. My friends know I’m nuts because I’m in.

    1. Patrick W.

      We don’t usually hear this early… at least I don’t.

  17. Blackhawks1963

    So the outfield options shape up as follows….Schierholtz, Sweeney from the left side. Maybe Lake from the right side. Maybe Vitters in competition for a reserve role. Ditto Bogusevic. With Baez or Bryant possibly fitting into the outfield picture at some point in 2014.

    1. On The Farm

      I would assume that Baez’s future is in the infield (whether it be SS, 2B, or 3B is to be determined). He is too valuable to move to the OF.

  18. Cubbies4Life

    Sweeney and Rizzo! Ten more like those guys, and we’ve got ourselves a beefcake calendar!

  19. kubphan82

    Glad to have kept Sweeney. I’m surprised he didn’t wait until FA officially kicked into gear. I thought he may have played himself into a better contract. Perhaps it’s a value contract for him as well, he must expect that he’ll have more opportunity here to “show what he’s worth” than somewhere else, inevitably giving him the ability to net more money in the long run.

    It’s a Schierholtz story.

    I think Cub fans can expect that
    Bogusevic
    Lake
    Schierholtz
    Soler
    Sweeney
    Szczur

    Will be on the opening 40… Possibly Vitters (already on the 40, but moved to RH OF) while losing only Jackson and McDonald (McNeal was on the DL, but I don’t expect him to be around)…

    OF is almost set :/ They need, what(?), another RH OF option….Anyone think that the Cubs will look at Chris Young when his option isn’t picked up?

    1. bbmoney

      I was thinking about Young. Good fielder. 30, coming off a bad year. Not going to set the world on fire offensively. But he has pop and will take a walk. He’d be pretty cheap too probably on a short deal.

  20. Jason Powers

    Well, for perspective: $6.71 million was Bryant’s signing bonus….So we did bargain out a decent deal here. He got DeJesus’s buyout moneyin 2014 (1.5M).

    So who’s next?

  21. Rizzofanclub

    I don’t see Bogusevic making the team. I could see someone like Morse being brought in to give some power to the Cubs and hits from the right side and could play left field.

    1. ssckelley

      I do see them bringing back Bogusevic, I think the Cubs signing Sweeney means they are going to plug him in at center and not go after the big names like Choo or Ellsbury. So Bogusevic becomes a 4th outfield and the Cubs go after a right handed bat to complement both Sweeney and Schierholtz. But instead of Morse how about Corey Hart?

      1. cub2014

        sskelley, I hope you are wrong because
        if that is what the Cubs are going to do
        then get ready for 90 losses again. we
        need run producing big league hitters.

        1. ssckelley

          I agree, but with the Cubs having Bogusevic under control for next season and basically he is the same type of hitter with similar results why resign Sweeney? Resigning Sweeney screams of another Schierholtz type of move. With the outfielders they have coming up through the system I don’t think they are looking to shell out huge amounts of money in long term deals.

          I could be wrong. I am going by the pattern the FO has done in the past.

      2. kubphan82

        I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the three are signed:
        CYoung
        Hart
        Morse

        1. bbmoney

          I agree on the first two.

    2. bbmoney

      Morse stinks and can’t really play outfield.

      1. Rizzo1684

        I did not mention Hart b/c I really think he is going back to Milwaukee but he would be a perfect type of player for next year. I don’t understand all the hate on Morse I mean I’m talking about a platoon player with some pop that hits from the right side for one year until Bryant is called up. I really think the Cubs are only going to make one big splash and thats Tanaka, they will sign a few Scott Baker/Feldman signings and trade Shark and Villanueva to Toronto in a deal for Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez b/c Toronto is clearly in win now mode and could use the IF depth along with a legit starter for 2 years. What do ya think am I over/under the value of Shark?

  22. Brian Myers

    If Ryan had enough AB’s he would have been 18th in BA and 11th in slugging among CF’s. That makes him an average CF prospect with double digit HR potential. But he’s also 6’4 223 and has never had more than 6 hr’s or 9 sb’s in the majors. So he would be a quality 5th OF on a good club, a less than spectacular OF on any club, and a “try hard” bench player for a couple years.

    What makes him a good signing? For me, it’s the fact that he buys into to philosophy of SO less, playing hard, being a good teammate, and he’s on at a bargain rate. He won’t bring a club a championship, but he’ll foster an atmosphere as a supporting player that will bring them closer to one.

    1. Brian Myers

      …oh, and if he ever reaches his potential? That’s a bonus!

      1. Eternal pessemist

        I don’t see the Cubs using (wasting) a 40 man spot bringing in a 5h outfielder…no matter how scrappy he is. They have too many assets needing protection as it is, and have minor leaguers they could plug in right now as 5th outfielders (not talking about the high veiling/floor prospects either)

  23. Cheryl

    I would still retain Vogelbach until after next season. If he turns into the slugger that many have predicted after being traded it will be an albatross around Theo’s neck. Wait.

  24. Die hard

    Sweeney gone by AllStar break for minor leaguers to a contender

    1. mjhurdle

      no, we will release him, and the Toyko Yomiuri Giants will pick him up as the first piece of the compensation for them trading us their manager, Tatsunori Hata

    2. hansman1982

      3qxrgu.jpg

  25. MightyBear

    One down, two to go. Now sign Baker and Ellsbury and i’m happy.

  26. Brains

    A good contract for a role player, not to be dismissed. Elite players will wait longer to accumulate more offers. But it’s definitely discouraging that we keep dumping 3m here, 2m there to get players who don’t produce. For all of the wasted waiver wire money we could could have signed a legitimate starter in the past 2 years.

  27. Mike Taylor (no relation)

    110 wRC+, .337 wOBA in 212 PA is great for a backup. That’s 5th on the team in both categories. Bogusevic was 4th if that tells you anything…

    1. ssckelley

      Which is why I doubt they are cutting Bogusevic or signing Sweeney to be a 4/5th outfielder. I think they are plugging him into centerfield next year. It would not make any sense to have 2 left handed outfielders on the bench.

  28. WGNFAN

    I think that this is more of value to trade than a mid tern stop gap.
    If he does well, why keep him?, we are not going to win it in 2 years.
    Same as for Schierholtz.

  29. crazyhorse

    2 years at 3.5 million, decent player ,good 4th outfielder and everyday player if needed. The Cubs did okay with this contract. The only reason to be angry at this signing is because fans are tired of the CUbs not signing a superstar but that a different topic. this is a good wise move by the front office .

  30. Ivy Walls

    Sweeney is a fine utility OF’er who can spot start or even platoon a bit, possibly 100 GP but with 300-350 AB’s; he and Lake would make for a find interchangeable OF for situational aspects. Cubs need real power OF’ers,

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