CINCINNATI -- One by one, the Reds have been checking off their list of needs. Their latest move appears to have come on Monday night. MLB.com has learned through a source that outfielder Ryan Ludwick has agreed to a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2013. The dollar figure remains unclear, but the Reds weren't expected to spend a lot to fill their opening for a fourth outfielder. The signing is pending a physical.
Ludwick, 33, batted .237 with 13 home runs last season in a combined 139 games with the Padres and Pirates. He has a history with Reds general manager Walt Jocketty, having played for him with the Cardinals. Ludwick spent the 2007-09 seasons in St. Louis and hit a career-best 37 homers with 113 RBIs in 2008. Before this move, Cincinnati had only three outfielders with extensive big league experience on its 40-man roster, and was looking for an outfielder who could be paired in left field with Chris Heisey. Ludwick can also play right field to spell Jay Bruce when needed. A lifetime .261 hitter with 117 home runs and a .332 on-base percentage over nine big league seasons, Ludwick could bring some right-handed power to the 25-man roster. Last season he batted .264 vs. left-handed pitchers and .228 against right-handers, but he has been better over his career vs. righties (.272 average) than lefties (.237). In addition to having a track record with Jocketty, Ludwick also has had a fan in recent years in manager Dusty Baker, who has made multiple positive comments, both publicly and privately. In 30 career games at Great American Ball Park, Ludwick has batted .276 with nine homers and 21 RBIs. He also has a .921 on-base-plus-slugging percentage there.
Although he does bat from the right side, he throws left-handed.The Reds have not issued any information about the deal. Last week the club agreed to terms with free-agent closer Ryan Madson on a one-year deal that guarantees the right-hander $8.5 million. This contract, too, is pending a physical. In two December trades, Jocketty acquired a No. 2 starting pitcher, Mat Latos, from the Padres and lefty setup man Sean Marshall from the Cubs. Cincinnati is still looking for a backup shortstop. Jocketty said on Friday that he hoped to have left field and shortstop resolved by this week. He is now halfway to his goal.