Apr 23, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA: Boston Red Sox right fielder Ryan Sweeney (12) hits a double in the third inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. The Red Sox won 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
Headed into the 2013 offseason the biggest question for the Red Sox will be who to bring to Boston. Between The Trade and the disappearance of Daisuke Matsuzaka from the payroll, they'll have somewhere between most of the money in the world and all of it to spend on improving the team.
But there are other decisions to be made too. For all that the Sox have a ton of money to work with, there's no great desire in the front office to spend on players they don't expect to contribute to the team. With only five players guaranteed a salary in 2013--and one of those being Jose Iglesias--and only eight of the others not under team control, the Sox will have a few chances to shed players they're no longer interested in.
One such man who might not be long for the team is Ryan Sweeney. Acquired as part of the Andrew Bailey/Josh Reddick trade, Sweeney came in to form a platoon with Cody Ross, ideally getting the lion's share of the at bats against right-handed pitching.
Sweeney would start strong, hitting in the first seven games he started. After one hitless night, he got right back on track with 15 hits in 9 games. There was no one more impressive through the first month.
It would prove an unsustainable hot streak. With injuries popping up on the way--a classic problem for the fragile Sweeney--the outfielder fell from a .962 OPS in April to a .599 mark in May, .563 in June, and .379 in July before finally ending his own season by breaking his hand with a punch to a door.
Sweeney is an interesting player with some level of upside, though at 27-going-on-28 he's running out of time to show he's anything more than a big frame with no power or durability. As a backup outfielder he might be interesting. Pinch hitters who specialize in hitting righties are harder to find than their counterparts, and Sweeney can play the outfield just fine.
Still, the Sox aren't likely to be at a great need for backups, and with Sweeney already costing them $1.7 million and due for an arbitration raise just by the nature of the system, it's probably not the best allocation of their money. If they're really deadset on keeping their minor league outfielders in the minor leagues in hopes that the likes of Ryan Kalish will figure things out, and they don't want to turn to a Scott Podsednik type, then maybe Sweeney makes sense. And if we're in a one-year money is no option mode and can't find enough places to spend up near the luxury tax threshold then maybe Sweeney makes sense in that situation too.
But after another bad year it's hard to imagie Sweeney carries much trade value, and he's not really worth much as a backup. If they can't find some team to take him off their hand for minor league scrap then they may be best off just letting him walk to find a more appropriate deal in free agency.