Ryan Ludwick Rumors

NL Notes: LaRoche, Phillies, Reds, Cardinals

Today is the 63rd anniversary of Jackie Robinson becoming the first African-American player to win the MVP Award. This would be the only such honor during Robinson's Hall of Fame career. Here's the latest news from the Senior Circuit:

  • Negotiations between the Nationals and Adam LaRoche are going slowly, a source tells MLB.com's Bill Ladson. The source also says LaRoche's top priority is to return to the Nationals, but the free agent first baseman is thinking about his two children, which is why he wants a three-year deal and has talked with several teams. 
  • A five-year, $75MM contract might be accurate for B.J. Upton but expect Michael Bourn to seek more, tweets Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Despite the declining influence of home runs to change a game, as typified by the Giants winning the World Series after slugging the fewest home runs in baseball, the Phillies still need a power surge in 2013, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Bob Brookover.
  • Centerfield is one position where the Phillies could seek to boost their power output. ESPN's Buster Olney breaks down their various centerfield options in his latest Insiders-only blog.
  • John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer sees the Reds' 2013 payroll being $92MM, but a team insider tells him the actual number could start with an eight. This would make it difficult, in Fay's opinion, to do anything in free agency except sign a closer or re-sign Ryan Ludwick.
  • Within the same piece, GM Walt Jocketty says he will wait until after Thanksgiving to speak with Scott Rolen, who is contemplating retirement.
  • The Cardinals' needs are simple for 2013, writes Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The team needs to reinforce a thin bench by adding some right-handed power and find a fourth outfielder who can generate some offense. Miklasz adds the health of shortstop Rafael Furcal is also a significant question.
  • Blessed with the deepest of pockets, the Dodgers' desire to pursue an elite starting pitcher reveals myriad ways the team can approach the process, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times. Common sense, however, may still prevail at Chavez Ravine as Dodgers controlling partner Mark Walter once eloquently stated, "Pitchers break." 

Daniel Seco contributed to this post.

Jocketty Discusses Reds Offseason Rumors

Reds GM Walt Jocketty spoke to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer about some of the free agent names connected to his club this winter…

  • The Reds' first priority is trying to find a leadoff hitter, though Jocketty said that Michael Bourn is too expensive for his club and the same could be true about Angel Pagan.  Jocketty said that the team hasn't contacted Pagan yet and "not that we wouldn’t but I wonder about the money.”
  • Jocketty confirmed that the Reds have talked to Jonathan Broxton and Ryan Madson about returning to Cincinnati, while the team has also spoke to free agent Joakim Soria.  Broxton is the only one of the trio who would be able to pitch on Opening Day, as Madson and Soria are both recovering from Tommy John surgery.  The Reds are likely one of the eight contenders who Soria's agent, Oscar Suarez, says has shown interest in his client.
  • The Reds talked to Torii Hunter's agent "but the money was too much," Jocketty said.  The general manager doubted that Hunter's two-year, $26MM contract with the Tigers would impact Ryan Ludwick's price since "they're different kind(s) of players."  The Reds have had "preliminary" talks with Ludwick about a new deal.
  • Jocketty told FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi last week that the Reds could deal one of their shortstops (Zack Cozart and Didi Gregorius) if the right deal came along, but Jocketty said that neither player is being shopped.  "We’re not taking offers,” Jocketty said. “That gets out and then we have to call Cozart and call Didi.”
  • The Reds have no plans to extend Jay Bruce's contract.  "We control him for five more years,” Jocketty said. “It’s so far off. It’s something we haven’t talked about.”  Matt Sosnick, Bruce's agent, raised the possibility of an extension beyond 2016 for his client earlier today.

Jocketty On Ludwick, Chapman, Votto

It’s no secret that Reds GM Walt Jocketty intends to upgrade the Cincinnati outfield this offseason. Jocketty addressed his search for outfield help and other Reds-related questions in a conversation with MLBTR at the GM Meetings in Indian Wells, California. Here are the details.

  • Jocketty said the Reds hope to re-sign Ryan Ludwick this winter. “We’ve made some progress, but it’ll probably take another week or two before we know where we’re at,” the GM said. “
  • Ideally the Reds would like to add a leadoff hitter. Whether the newcomer plays center or left field has yet to be determined.
  • The Reds view Aroldis Chapman as a starting pitcher long-term and they could make him a starter in 2013 if they acquire a free agent reliever. “If we re-sign Ryan Madson or [Jonathan] Broxton or someone else it would allow us to move Chapman to the rotation,” Jocketty said. Pitching coach Bryan Price feels strongly that Chapman can become a top of the rotation starter.
  • Signing Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips in the spring helped the Reds focus on other needs this offseason, the GM said. “That was important for us to do, for sure.”

Central Links: Royals, Ludwick, Reds, Hafner

The Royals improved their rotation earlier today by acquiring Ervin Santana from the Angels in what amounted to a salary dump trade. Here is the latest from baseball's two Central divisions…

  • Royals GM Dayton Moore says the team is "not done" following the Santana pickup, reports Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star (on Twitter). The club figures to continue seeking upgrades for their rotation.
  • The Reds and Ryan Ludwick continue to talk after the outfielder declined his half of a mutual option, reports John Fay of The Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter). GM Walt Jocketty said the club is unlikely to offer more than two years, however.
  • Jocketty also told Fay that the Reds have interest in retaining free agents Ryan Madson, Jonathan Broxton, and Dioner Navarro (Twitter link). "I don't know if we'll sign them all," added Jocketty.
  • "We remain open to it," said Indians GM Chris Antonetti when asked about re-signing Travis Hafner, reports MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. Cleveland declined the slugger's option earlier today but seem poised to go in a different direction at DH.

Ryan Ludwick Declines Mutual Option

Ryan Ludwick declined his side of the mutual option on his contract, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). As expected, the Beverly Hills Sports Council client will become a free agent. Ludwick's contract included a $5MM mutual option with a $500K buyout.

Ludwick will pursue a multiyear deal after hitting 26 home runs and posting a .275/.346/.531 batting line in 472 plate appearances with Cincinnati this past season. The Reds need outfielders and will consider working out a new deal with Ludwick. Both sides are “very interested” in discussing another contract, Heyman reported two weeks ago.

NL Central Notes: Ludwick, Sanchez, Astros

As the Cardinals continue to battle the Giants in the NLCS, here's the latest from the NL Central…

  • The Reds probably won't be able to afford Ryan Ludwick if he insists on "market value" for veteran corner outfielders, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.  That's probably true if Ludwick looks for the deals that Josh Willingham, Jason Kubel or Michael Cuddyer (Fay's comparables) received last winter, but Willingham and Cuddyer were the oldest of the trio, going into their age-33 seasons. Ludwick turns 35 in July, so a three-year deal seems far-fetched to me.
  • The Brewers announced they have purchased the contract of right-hander Jesus Sanchez and added him to their 40-man roster.  The 25-year-old Sanchez posted a combined 1.63 ERA in 52 relief appearances at the Double-A and Triple-A levels last season, plus a 2.91 K/BB ratio and 64 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings.
  • The Astros won't have their coaching staff finalized for a week or two, GM Jeff Luhnow told reporters, including MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.  Only one or two members of the current Astros' staff is under consideration to return under new manager Bo Porter.  Bench coach Joe Pettini will not be back, reports McTaggart (Twitter link).

Ludwick To Decline Option; Reds Interested

Outfielder Ryan Ludwick will turn down his side of the $5MM mutual option on his contract with the Reds, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. However, the Reds will discuss a new deal with Ludwick in the hopes of keeping him in Cincinnati. Both sides are “very interested” and Ludwick would like a multiyear deal, Heyman reports.

Ludwick, 34, just completed his best season in years. He hit 26 home runs and posted a .275/.346/.531 batting line in 472 plate appearances as the Reds' left fielder. The one-year contract he signed with Cincinnati in February includes a $5MM mutual option for 2013 ($500K buyout).

Reds Notes: Ludwick, Baker, Speier

The Reds clinched a postseason spot with today's 5-3 victory over the Cubs.  Cincinnati will return to the playoffs for the second time in three seasons and the team's magic number to clinch the NL Central stands at just two.  Here's the latest from the Queen City…

  • "I've told numerous people I like it here," Ryan Ludwick told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.  "I'm definitely going to do everything in my ability on my side to stay here. I know it's a business and budgets become factors in an organization. I'm really hoping everything works out."  Ludwick signed a one-year, $2.5MM deal with the Reds in January that contains a $5MM mutual option for 2013, with a $500K buyout.  The outfielder has enjoyed a big comeback season, hitting .276/.349/.532 with 26 homers in 460 plate appearances entering today's action, so it's a pretty good bet that the Reds will exercise their end of Ludwick's option.
  • Dusty Baker will be at Great American Ballpark on Friday for the Reds' game with the Dodgers, though it isn't clear if Baker will resume his duties as manager, GM Walt Jocketty told media (including Sheldon).  Baker is in hospital in Chicago undergoing tests for an irregular heartbeat, and Jocketty said his manager was feeling good when he visited him on Thursday morning. 
  • Bench coach Chris Speier has been managing the Reds in Baker's absence and Speier told reporters (including Sheldon) that he hopes to at least receive an interview for a managerial opening this winter.  "I think everybody in baseball understands that I would love to have the opportunity to at least go through the interview process and be part of that," Speier said.  "That's never been a secret. I don't put myself out there. People know what I've done and what I am capable of doing. The reputation that I hopefully have around is one that if it's warranted for an opportunity, that I will get that."

Reds To Sign Ryan Ludwick

The Reds have agreed to sign free agent outfielder Ryan Ludwick to a one-year deal that includes a mutual option for 2013, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Ludwick gets a $2.5MM guarantee and could earn another $500K in incentives, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. Beverly Hills Sports Council represents Ludwick, who played for Cincinnati GM Walt Jocketty in St. Louis.

Ludwick, who can play left and right field, gives the Reds some much-needed outfield depth. Like left fielder Chris Heisey, Ludwick is a right-handed hitter. However, Ludwick has hit right-handers (.804 OPS) better than left-handers (.751 OPS) in his nine-year career.

Ludwick, 33, posted a .237/.310/.363 line with 13 homers for the Padres and Pirates in 2011. His batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage all dropped for the third consecutive season. However, UZR/150 suggests Ludwick has played average defense in the outfield corners in recent years.

A’s Notes: Taylor, Gomes, Damon, Outman, Moscoso

On this date in 1986, the Mets and Twins completed a five-player trade involving former first rounder Billy Beane. Now the Athletics’ GM, Beane completed a trade today, obtaining Seth Smith from Colorado for Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman. Here are the latest Athletics-related links… 

  • Beane says the Athletics are still looking for right-handed hitting outfielder depth, Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News Group tweets. Michael Taylor will have to play his way into the picture, according to Stiglich.
  • John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle hears that the A's are pursuing a Jonny Gomes/Ryan Ludwick type for depth. The A's haven't ruled out Johnny Damon, Shea tweets.
  • Outman told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that the trade was "bittersweet," but that he's "not mad by any means," Pitching so far above sea level will be an adjustment for the fly ball pitcher, however.
  • Moscoso told Slusser that he's "in shock," although he's looking forward to the opportunity in Colorado.