Cubs sign Ryan Sweeney to 2-year, $3.5 million deal

USA TODAY Sports

Chicago has re-upped with the fourth outfielder before he could hit the open market.

The Chicago Cubs have re-signed outfielder Ryan Sweeney to a two-year, $3.5 million deal with an option for a third season, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Sweeney was set to hit the open market when the offseason officially started on Nov. 1, but has opted for guaranteed money instead.

The new contract will pay Sweeney $1.5 million in both 2014 and 2015, and gives the Cubs the option of paying him $2.5 million in 2016 or buying him out for $500,000.

Sweeney, 28, signed with the Cubs in early April after he was dropped from the Red Sox roster.

The oft-injured outfielder started the year with Chicago's Triple-A affiliate, but hit his way onto the active roster by the start of May.

The left-handed batting Sweeney thrived in limited action with the Cubs, hitting .266/.324/.448 with six home runs in 212 plate appearances -- most of which came against right-handed pitching.

He likely would have played a larger role in the outfield if it weren't for a rib injury he suffered slamming into the wall in late July.

His career .289/.344/.406 line against right-handers in parts of eight big-league seasons should make him a valuable asset to the Cubs as at least a platoon player. Sweeney also has a reputation as a solid defensive outfielder, so he can provide value there as well even if he starts to falter at the plate.

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