The Cubs have signed outfielder Ryan Sweeney to a two-year, $3.5MM contract, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Sweeney will earn $1.5MM in 2014 and again in 2015. The Cubs hold a $2.5MM option on Sweeney for the 2016 season that contains a $500K buyout, according to Nightengale (Twitter links). Sweeney is a client of Reynolds Sports Management.
Sweeney, who is set to turn 29 in February, enjoyed a solid season in limited action for the Cubs in 2013, batting .266/.324/.448 with six homers in 212 plate appearances. He missed nearly 60 games due to a broken rib that he suffered when colliding with the outfield wall to make a catch. Sweeney carries a strong defensive reputation, particularly in right field, but UZR likes him as an above-average defender in center field as well.
In parts of eight Major League seasons between the White Sox, A's, Red Sox and Cubs, Sweeney is a .278/.336/.385 hitter. The lefty swinger is particularly effective against right-handed pitchers, slashing .289/.344/.406 in 1674 career plate appearances against opposite-handed hurlers.
Sweeney would have been eligible for free agency this offseason, but instead elected to take a guaranteed deal from the Cubs before testing the market. Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune quotes Sweeney (Twitter link): "I'm glad to be back and have this taken care of soon.''
The guaranteed deal has to be particularly satisfying for Sweeney, who took a rocky path to the Cubs. Acquired by the Red Sox from the A's in the Andrew Bailey-Josh Reddick trade, Sweeney was non-tendered following his first season in Boston. He re-signed on a minor league deal with the Red Sox but found himself released at the end of Spring Training, at which point he signed another minor league deal with the Cubs.