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. Kyle

    Would it be conceivable for Schierholtz to get non-tendered?

    1. ssckelley

      No way that happens. But I am starting to wonder if he won’t be used as trade bait.

    2. jt

      Perhaps a club like KC could use Schierholtz for a year. He made $2.5M in 2013. I don’t think he’ll get to expensive in 2014. Seems like he has some trade value.

  2. Dumpgobbler

    Good deal. Low years low money and will probably start next season, and can slide into a 4th OF too.

  3. Aaron

    Has anyone been following Matt Szczur closely?

    I came across his stats the other day and they are decent. Could he be a player that makes the team out of spring training and secure the CF position and bat either first or second in the lineup? How is his defense?

    Average: .282 | BB: 50 | OBP: .350 | Runs: 78 | SB: 22

    1. cms0101

      He probably won’t start out the season in the majors. He’s a 4th OF type right now, nothing more. He plays good defense. Hopefully he can play well enough in Iowa to be considered for call-up sometime next year.

    2. Jay

      Szczur needs to be at Iowa for the majority of the year. I would consider him for a Sept call-up if his statistics warrant it.

  4. Dustin S

    Coming off of a season where we paid $2M this season to Ian Stewart (sorry I brought up the name, cringe), Sweeney at $1.5M is a bargain.

    I do also think folks are reading a bit too far into impact from his signing as to other trades or who will play where. He’s a solid reserve OF, but it’s probably reaching in his case to assume it means player x will be traded or start/not start. But it’s to be expected I suppose with him being one of the first Cubs (re)signings of the offseason.

  5. ryan

    What does this mean for Brian Bog.? It would be nice to bring them both back.

  6. Aaron

    Arismendy Alcantara. Looks like a solid prospect. We know he can play 2B or SS…but could he play CF? He could be an exciting player on the Cubs roster.

    1. Jason Powers

      Give him about 100-200 AAA ABs, to see, and we should move him up, as your thinking a super utility guy. At least, that’s a path unless we are parting with Barney…before the 2014 start of the season…1866829-barney.gif

    2. Jay

      I’ll be the first to admit it if he flops but I truly believe Alcantara is the real deal. I’ve seen him play a few times > Great bat speed. I think he will be the second basemen of the future. Reminds me a lot of Jimmy Rollins.

      1. Jason Powers

        That’s a fair comparison. But It’s always a crap shoot. They may leave him down at AAA for a full season, to be 100% on him. But I think he can force the issue.

        If he’s 1/2 of Jimmy, we’d be pretty darn happy (WAR wise: that would be 21 total) http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/rolliji01.shtml being we haven’t had a drafted product produce that much WAR in quite a while. Prior was over 10…

  7. Bill

    I agree about Szczur I like to see him get a chance at the starting cf job next year he seems to have a good eye at the plate and alot of speed.

    1. Dumpgobbler

      I would be absolutely shocked if Szczur is even much more then a short term fix at starting CF. 4th OFer would be fine. If its a case of our team absolutely sucking next season I don’t see any reason not to try him out. But in terms of trying to build a successful team.. If Szczur is the starting guy there we’re probably in trouble..

  8. Jay

    The deal with Sweeney is excellent! Fantastic signing, FO!

  9. Aaron

    Szczur does not need to be a superstar player to have value to a team. A solid player with good fundamentals that is consistent is important to a successful team. I think the Cubs of old consistent and hold and cold players and not ones that offer any kind of consistency. The first 2 months of the season are cooler where home runs are hard to come by. Players like Szczur don’t rely on hot weather and the wind blowing out for home-runs. Time to think outside the box in putting together a competitive team.

    If these numbers translate into an entire major league season…this would be a decent player.
    .282 | BB: 50 | OBP: .350 | Runs: 78 | SB: 22

    1. Blublud

      Those numbers in the MLB would not be decent, they would be damn good. If Szczur could duplicate those numbers at the MLB level, while playing good defense in center, he would be a all-star candidate most years.

    2. Kyle

      If everyone could translate their AA numbers to the majors, we’d need to expand to 80 teams to fit all the new major leaguers.

      1. Blublud

        Right. I never said I expected Szczur to duplicate his numbers, just if he did. The chances are not that good. Slim to nil would be accurate.

    3. Jason P

      What makes Szczur “more consistent” than any other prospect? He doesn’t really have all that great of fundamentals — rushed, sloppy swing that generates almost exclusively singles, above average defense in center, but that’s more because his athleticism allows him to get to more balls, not because his instincts or routes are overly great.

      The average and OBP are nice, but there’s no way he’d replicate those numbers in the bigs after skipping AAA to start next year. Combine that with his complete lack of power and issues with stolen base inefficiency, and you have yourself a fringe roster guy — at least until he develops a little more.

      Give him a year in AAA, and he should at least develop into a pretty good extra outfielder.

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        I still haven’t figured out what the Hades people think “consistent” is: the word is used pretty inexactly.

  10. RWakild

    Kris Bryant 3-6 with a double and no strikeouts. Starting out Arizona like he finished Florida.

    1. Blublud

      That’s pretty exciting. Any word on the other guys.

      1. another JP

        1-6 for Soler with a couple Ks and Rivero struck out the side after an error. Bryant starting to look like the real deal.

        1. willis

          Rivero striking out the side is awesome.

        2. CubChymyst

          Not to surprised with Soler having a couple K. Been awhile since he has seen live pitching again.

          1. Rizzovoir Dog

            Luke, we need a Rivero write up. Seems like a guy who could win a job out of the pen.

  11. Geo

    1e5a5908…d4ccc.jpg

  12. Steve Ontiveros' Mustache
  13. Steve Ontiveros' Mustache

    ozpzr.jpg

    1. MichiganGoat

      Third times a charm ;)

      1. Steve Ontiveros' Mustache

        Only the 2nd time. I get there, just slowly.

        1. MichiganGoat

          Right I saw Geo’s above yours ;)

    2. Jason Powers

      Nice.

  14. Geo

    upload.json

    1. MichiganGoat

      You need to make sure your image has a URL and a .jpg ending if you want to post a picture

  15. Die hard

    Sign of lack of confidence in minor leaguers to sign Sweeney? If so that’s bad

    1. Blublud

      Right. Because their are clearly like 8 or 10 OFers waiting to make their debut.

      1. Die hard

        So you agree?

        1. Blublud

          Absolutely not. Signing Sweeney was nothing more then a chance to keep value-added(Industrial Engineering term) talent.

          1. Die hard

            Maybe Soler is not the second coming of Clemente

            1. Blublud

              Or Soler is not expecting to be ready until right before the Cubs have to make a decision on Sweeney’s option, if either one even has anything to do with the other.

            2. TOOT

              Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what your getting. But I think this one is coming with a ribbon, maybe.

  16. Kevin

    Is there anything to the rumor of Granderson approaching the Cubs today with a Dawson-like blank check approach?

    1. MichiganGoat

      Whaaaat? Where did you see that?

      1. kscubfan

        Yeah…please let that be true

      2. Die hard

        Don’t encourage him

    2. Blublud

      This can’t be true. Granderson is not yet a free agent.

  17. Steve

    Hope #1 starter Jeff Samardzija was watching how the Tigers’ ace Mat Scherzer pitched out of a possible 8th inning bases loaded no outs rally by the Athletics today. Numerous times this season our so-called ace pitcher would dominate the opposition for 4-5 innings and then completely fall apart after the other team put some runners on base.

    1. Jason P

      A couple years ago, Shark was a 7th inning reliever who seemed destined to a life in middle relief. Now people are disappointed he’s not an ace.

      Bottom line: this year, he tossed the 4th most innings in MLB (213.2) with the 4th most strikeouts (214) and a FIP/xFiP well below his ERA (4.34 ERA, 3.77 FIP, 3.64). As fans, we should have realized that him developing into a TOR starter was always the best case scenario, and we should never have let it become our expectation.

      I’ll take an innings eating #3 starter any day.

      1. BWA

        Also, People are quickly forgetting how dominant he was at the beginning months of the year. He just needs to harness that and make it last. I think he got fatigued plus he was frustrated with the sell off and the Cubs losing so much. It seems like that would really affect him based on interviews I’ve heard.

      2. jt

        Not sure of the significance but Price averaged 14.6 pitchers/IP while Shark averaged 16.2 pitches/IP.
        For an avg 7 inning start Price would hurl 102 pitches while Shark 113.
        Seems significant though.

  18. Kevin

    Sorry I don’t have a link. A few different friends in Chicago heard the Grandy rumor on The Score radio today. And surely they would never fabricate

  19. Jason P

    As a stop-gap starter in center, we could double do a lot worse than Sweeney. About league average production with the bat with above average defense from a premium position.

  20. Aaron

    How can Jeff Samardzija become more link Tigers’ ace Mat Scherzer?

    Answer: Shark needs to lower his walks from 78 to 56 and reduce home runs he gives up from 25 to 18. Both walks and home runs occurred often after the 5th inning in his starts. That’s how you lose a game in the 6 and 7 inning even though you pitched great in the first 5 innings.

  21. Aaron

    Sorry…more like Tigers’ ace Mat Scherzer

  22. Sam

    Aaron,

    You were so worried about your typo of the word “like”, how about getting Scherzer’s name right?! It’s Max Scherzer!!!

  23. Scotti

    Interesting Sweeney fact:

    He’s 7th all-time in outfielder fielding percentage:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/fielding_perc_of_career.shtml

    Sweet Lou Piniella is tied for 372nd.

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