Ryan Sweeney Rumors

Cubs Release Ryan Sweeney

TUESDAY: Chicago has announced that Sweeney has been released, as MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat tweets.

SUNDAY: The Cubs have announced they have designated outfielder Ryan Sweeney for assignment. The Cubs also purchased the contract of infielder Jonathan Herrera; but, with the Sweeney DFA, their 40-man roster still has one opening.

The 30-year-old had a .251/.304/.338 slash last year in 226 plate appearances for Chicago. He had shown more promise in the 212 turns at bat he had the prior season, his first with the Cubs, when he slashed .266/.324/.448.

Cubs Notes: Epstein, Barney, Samardzija

The Cubs begin a series at Fenway Park tonight, getting back in action following a rare Sunday off-day.  The club played a doubleheader on Saturday in order to keep Sunday free for Chicago’s Pride Parade, which could’ve created a traffic jam in the Wrigleyville area had the Cubs been playing as originally scheduled.  MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat takes a look at the history of Sunday baseball, and passes along the historical note that the Cubs were off on a Sunday for the first time since 1932.

Here’s the latest from the north side of Chicago…

  • Theo Epstein denied rumors that he will leave the Cubs after his contract expires following the 2016 season, he tells Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune.  While some speculate that Epstein has been upset at the lack of Major League resources he’s been given by the Cubs, he “insists he will be here as long as the Cubs want him,” Sullivan writes.
  • Two scouts aren’t impressed by Darwin Barney‘s bat, telling Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that while Barney is a good fielder, “if he can’t hit in the National League, what makes anyone think he can hit in the American League?”  Barney has only slashed .198/.243/.284 in 174 PA this season and could be non-tendered if he can’t improve at the plate.  Gonzales feels Barney’s time with the Cubs is probably nearing an end, though it could come via a trade if he can hit enough to get a look from another team.
  • Also from Gonzales’ reader mailbag piece, he expects the Cubs “to wait as long as possible” for the best offer before trading Jeff Samardzija or Jason Hammel.  He thinks Samardzija might even not be moved until the offseason if necessary, though this would lessen this trade value as a new team would only have him under contract for the 2015 season.
  • The Cubs haven’t gotten much production out of their veteran outfielders, and Gonzales expects maybe one (at most) of Nate Schierholtz, Justin Ruggiano, Ryan Sweeney, Chris Coghlan or Ryan Kalish to be back next season and Chicago will look for more veteran upgrades.  Since Sweeney is owed $2MM for 2015 and the others are all on one-year or minor league contracts, I’d suspect Sweeney is the favorite to return, though $2MM isn’t so large an amount that the Cubs couldn’t eat it if necessary.

Cubs Sign Ryan Sweeney To Two-Year Deal

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 BaileyJosh 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.

Central Notes: Peralta, McDonald, Sweeney

In some non-traditional transactional news, some Tigers fans are mourning the apparent firing of one of Comerica Park's fixtures, opera-singing hot dog vendor Charley Marcuse. More from MLB's central divisions…

  • The Tigers have a decison looming with Jhonny Peralta, who will return from a 50-game suspension with three games remaining in the regular season, John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press notes. The club may not reinstate Peralta to avoid associated media scrutiny, as the infielder was suspended for his connection with the Biogenesis scandal. However, keeping him on could protect the Tigers in the case of an injury to his replacement at shortstop, Jose Iglesias, or second baseman Omar Infante.
  • Though righty James McDonald has finally recovered after hitting the DL with shoulder discomfort in early May, he didn't factor into the Pirates' plans moving forward, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports in a tweet. McDonald, 28, was designated for assignment earlier today. The former top prospect is only a year removed from a 4.21 ERA, 171-inning campaign and has just a year of arbitration under his belt, so he could draw interest if clubs believe he's healthy.
  • The Cubs' Ryan Sweeney figures to get playing time this month so that the club can evaluate him, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reports. Sweeney will be a free agent after the season. "You give him 500, 700 plate appearances that he’s never gotten before, I think you could project that to be a pretty good year," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. The 28-year-old signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs in April but missed more than two months after fracturing a rib.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.

Cubs Sign Ryan Sweeney

The Cubs have signed outfielder Ryan Sweeney to a minor-league deal, Evan Drellich of MassLive.com reports. Sweeney was released by the Red Sox this weekend. Sweeney is represented by Reynolds Sports Management. Sweeney, a native Iowan, will report to Triple-A Iowa. In 2012, Sweeney hit .260/.303/.373 in 204 at-bats with Boston.

Jeff Johnson of the Cedar Rapids Gazette seems to have been the first to report that Sweeney was headed to the Cubs organization.

Red Sox Release Ryan Sweeney

The Red Sox have released outfielder Ryan Sweeney, according to a team release. Sweeney signed a minor-league deal with Boston in January. Sweeney hit .260/.303/.373 in 204 at-bats with the Red Sox in 2012. For his career, Sweeney has hit .280/.338/.378 in 1,719 at bats with the Red Sox, Athletics and White Sox. The Red Sox had already informed Sweeney he would not be making their 25-man roster, and he had requested his release, as Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe notes (on Twitter).

Transaction Retrospection: The Bailey-Reddick Trade

MLBTR is launching a new series entitled "Transaction Retrospection" in which we'll take a look back on trades that have taken place to see how the players involved — including low-level minor leaguers — have fared in new settings and how the involved teams have been impacted. Remember that you can always look back at the players involved in transactions and check in on them yourself using MLBTR's Transaction Tracker.

Oftentimes, as spectators of the game, we focus on the immediate impact of trades rather than the long-term impact that some major transactions have on the teams involved. For example, while some undoubtedly remember all of the players involved in last year's Andrew BaileyJosh Reddick trade between the Red Sox and Athletics, the majority of fans likely can't name all five players. The immediate impact was apparent in Reddick's success and Bailey's injuries, but there's more to this trade than just those two names.JoshReddick

The Athletics traded Bailey and Ryan Sweeney to Boston in exchange for Reddick, Miles Head and Raul Alcantara. Reddick's breakout and Bailey's breakdown are well-known, but let's look at each player's individual progress to date:

The Major League Side

  • Andrew Bailey: Bailey was supposed to take over as Boston's closer, but he would end up requiring thumb surgery in Spring Training and spend more than four months on the disabled list. Upon returning, he pitched to a disastrous 7.04 ERA in just 15 1/3 innings, walking eight and striking out 14 along the way. Bailey remains under team control through the 2014 season, so he'll have plenty of time to redeem himself and make this trade look better for Boston. However, he's been replaced as the closer following the offseason acquisition of Joel Hanrahan.
  • Ryan Sweeney: Sweeney went homerless in 219 plate appearances, batting .260/.303/.373 along the way. He played his typically strong brand of defense in Boston, posting an 11.6 UZR/150 and saving five runs over his 467 1/3 innings, per The Fielding Bible. Sweeney was non-tendered by the Red Sox this offseason but re-signed with the team on a minor league contract late last month.
  • Josh Reddick: Reddick exploded over the season's first half, batting a whopping .268/.348/.532 with 20 homers. While he slumped horribly in the second half, Reddick still finished with a .242/.305/.463 batting line with 32 homers. He was worth +22 runs per The Fielding Bible and posted an equally stellar 20.4 UZR/150. FanGraphs pegged Reddick's value at 4.8 wins above replacement. Reddick won't be arbitration eligible until after this coming season and is under team control through 2016.

The Prospect Side

  • Miles Head: Head ranks as the A's No. 7 prospect according to Baseball America and No. 9 according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. The 21-year-old primarily played third base in the Oakland organization, but also has experience at first base. He hit a ludicrous .382/.433/.715 with 18 homers in 67 games for High-A Stockton before being promoted to Double-A Midland. He held his own as a 21-year-old at Double-A, batting .272/.338/.404 but whiffed in 32.1 percent of his plate appearances. BA praises his quick, compact swing and "outstanding" bat control, which create enough power to profile as a corner infielder. Head's lack of range and athleticism leave his future at third base in doubt, according to BA.
  • Raul Alcantara: Alcantara ranks as the team's No. 26 prospect according to BA and No. 11 prospect according to MLB.com. After a dominant 2011 in Boston's organization, Alcantara struggled with Oakland's Class-A affiliate in Burlington in 2012. He pitched to a 5.08 ERA, 5.0 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 102 2/3 innings of work. BA has his fastball at 90-95 mph, and they also praise his change-up's depth and armside run. Both Mayo and BA agree that Alcantara's breaking pitches need work but praise his delivery and command. Alcantara turned 20 in December, so it would seem there's plenty of time to hone his secondary pitches and develop a bit more movement on his fastball.

The trade also had an impact on other players already in the organizations. Bailey's injury forced Alfredo Aceves into the closer's role in Boston for the first time, which had unspectacular results. The acquisition of Bailey was supposed to give the Red Sox enough depth to shift Daniel Bard into the starting rotation. Bard struggled, however, and when he returned to the bullpen after a Triple-A stint, he allowed 14 runs in six innings of relief pitching.

Reddick's acquisition, meanwhile, replaced the power production of the departing Josh Willingham — who signed as a free agent with the Twins — and vastly improved Oakland's outfield defense in the process. Willingham's departure, the Bailey trade and the Gio Gonzalez trade allowed the A's to invest four years and $36MM in Cuban hotshot Yoenis Cespedes.

The trade looks bleak for the Red Sox right now, but one of the beauties of transactions like this is the seemingly endless web they spin. For example, a strong season from Bailey could lead to another trade, causing the cycle to start all over again.

Baseball America's 2013 Prospect Handbook was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Red Sox To Sign Ryan Sweeney

The Red Sox have reached an agreement on a minor league deal with outfielder Ryan Sweeney, a major league source told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.  Sweeney is represented by Reynolds Sports Management and has an opt-out in the deal that would allow him to elect free agency if he is not added to the big league roster before to the end of spring training.

Sweeney, who turns 28 in February, spent last season with the Red Sox after being acquired from the A’s in the deal that also brought right-hander Andrew Bailey to Boston.  The outfielder hit .260/.303/.373 for the Red Sox until he punched a clubhouse door in Fenway Park and had to undergo surgery on his hand.  His season ended on July 30th, giving him just 63 big league games in 2012.

The veteran will provide the Red Sox with additional depth in the wake of Ryan Kalish's shoulder surgery that will sideline him to start the 2013 season.

Twins Notes: Podsednik, Sweeney, Parra, Bartlett

Despite indications to the contrary, the Twins never called to inquire about the availability of pitcher Anibal Sanchez, according to Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500.  Sanchez, of course, re-signed with the Tigers for five years and $80MM earlier this offseason.  Here's more out of Minnesota, courtesy of Wolfson..

  • The Twins still have interest in free agent outfielder Scott Podsednik, but they're not looking to sign free agent outfielder Ryan Sweeney.  We recently learned that the Mets aren't among the teams in on Podsednik.  The club had brief talks with Sweeney's representatives earlier in the winter.
  • Minnesota had interest in signing free agent starter Freddy Garcia in December but they haven't checked in on him since.  The Twins have also cut off contact with free agent pitcher Manny Parra.  The Twins, along with the Reds and Rockies, were said to be interested in Garcia late last year.
  • The Twins have not inquired about free agent shortstop Jason Bartlett, nor free agent second baseman Kelly Johnson.
  • The Twins never made an offer to shortstop Cesar Izturis, who signed a minor league deal with the Reds on Wednesday.  General Manager Terry Ryan & Co. never had an interest in free agent starter Aaron Cook before he signed with the Phillies either.  
  • Minnesota could have free agent starter Armando Galarraga on a minor league deal but aren't interested in him.  The right-hander hooked on with the Astros on a minor league contract last year after being cut by the Orioles.

Twins Notes: Myers, Harden, Alvarez, Diaz, Gomez

Here's the latest on the Twins, courtesy of 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson

  • The Twins had numerous discussions with Brett Myers before the right-hander signed with the Indians, but they never made him an offer.
  • Rich Harden's minor league contract with Minnesota includes a July 31st opt-out date according to Wolfson. The right-hander can elect free agency if he's not added to the big league roster by then.
  • The Twins will have a scout on hand to watch outfielder Dariel Alvarez and infielder Aledmys Diaz tomorrow. The two Cuban defectors are hosting a workout for teams.
  • The club has had "brief talks" with free agent outfielders Ryan Sweeney and Scott Podsednik after trading both Ben Revere and Denard Span this offseason.
  • The Twins have talked about Brent Lillibridge and Yuniesky Betancourt, but they're likely to sign elsewhere. Minnesota also has interest in Brandon Inge.
  • The Indians have reached out to several teams about Jeanmar Gomez, including the Twins. Gomez was designated for assignment earlier this week and Cleveland has ten days to trade, release, or waive him.