While we haven't yet hit the open free-agency period, ballclubs can still re-up with their own impending free agents. And on that front, the Cubs have done so with outfielder Ryan Sweeney. The deal is for two years and $3 million with an option for a third year at $2.5 million (with a $500,000 buyout), confirms Jon Heyman.
Sweeney, 28, hit .266/.324/.448 with 13 doubles, six homers and 19 RBI in only 70 games. He began the season in Triple-A and also missed time with a fractured rib after crashing into a wall.
Sweeney could serve as the starting center fielder heading into next season or as a fourth-outfielder type, as he can play all three spots.
If he has been signed with the intent of being the starter, it seems like he's a real cheap bridge to possibly giving way to hot-shot prospect Albert Almora. Almora, 19, was the Cubs first-round draft pick in 2012 and hit .329/.376/.466 in Class A this season. Most believe he's a top 30 prospect in all of baseball and it's reasonable to expect him to be ready after either two or three seasons to take over. So I do believe the structure of the Sweeney contract was designed with at least a bit of that in mind -- even if it wasn't the primary consideration.