2013 Boston Red Sox: Team Signs Outfielder Ryan Sweeney to Minor League Deal

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2013 Boston Red Sox: Team Signs Outfielder Ryan Sweeney to Minor League Deal
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Sweeney's glove provides good value as a backup outfielder.

The Boston Red Sox have brought back a familiar face, recently signing outfielder Ryan Sweeney to a minor-league deal, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

The deal was later confirmed in a separate story by CSBSports.com’s R.J. White.

Sweeney played for the Red Sox last season after coming to the team with Andrew Bailey in the trade that sent outfielder Josh Reddick and prospects to the Oakland A’s.

To say the trade has been a disaster so far would be an understatement. Reddick was a 2012 All-Star, hitting 32 home runs. In the meantime, Bailey missed most of the season because of injury and posted a 7.04 ERA in the 19 games he did pitch.

Sweeney played in 63 games with Boston, but missed the final two months of the season after breaking his hand punching a dugout wall during a game.

Following the injury, Sweeney issued an apology of sorts through a tweet.

 

When he did play for Boston last year, Sweeney’s value came almost exclusively with his glove. He hit just .260 with no home runs and 16 RBI.

After a hot April where he hit .373 with 11 doubles and eight RBI in 19 games, Sweeney batted just .204 with eight doubles and eight RBI in his final 44 games. However, his fall in production coincided with a concussion he suffered while making a diving catch against the Philadelphia Phillies.

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The left-handed Sweeney is about to turn 28 and is a veteran of parts of seven major league seasons with the Red Sox, A’s and Chicago White Sox. In 535 career games, he has batted .280 with 14 home runs and 185 RBI.

His lack of power is contrasted by his large frame (6’4”, 225 pounds). However, this far into his career, it’s unlikely he will continue developing beyond what he is now—a singles hitter with a good glove.

Sweeney was arbitration eligible this offseason but was non-tendered by Boston, making him a free agent.

Bringing Sweeney back into the fold is insurance for the outfield following the news that Ryan Kalish will have surgery on his shoulder, according to MLB.com’s Ian Browne.

CBSSports.com’s Mike Axisa wrote that Kalish will miss at least all of spring training. Since he was slated for one of the team’s backup outfield roles, his absence could be an important one.

Currently, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes have outfield slots locked up, and Daniel Nava should be a favorite for one of the backup roles. While Kalish is out, Sweeney may have an inside track on a roster spot, given his experience.

Even if Kalish makes a speedy recovery, having a player like Sweeney available at Triple-A Pawtucket is a valuable insurance policy. His ability to play all three outfield positions would allow him to fill in if any of the regulars were to miss time.

It looked like the Red Sox and Sweeney were prepared to part ways in 2013, but circumstances dictated that they may be a good fit for each other after all.

 

Statistics via BaseballReference

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