Still in need of a center fielder who can lead off, the Cincinnati Reds at least filled one void on Friday. According to according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, outfielder Ryan Ludwick has agreed to a new deal with the reigning National League Central champions.
In 2012, Ludwick thrived in a bounceback season that saw him hit .275 with a .877 OPS, 26 home runs, 80 RBI and a .531 slugging percentage in his first year with the Reds.
Ludwick – who had career highs of 37 home runs, 113 RBI, a .299 average and a .966 OPS for St. Louis in 2008 – had slipped to 17 home runs and a .251 average between the Cardinals and San Diego Padres in 2010 and a .237 average with 13 home runs between the Padres and the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011.
Last offseason, Ludwick inked a one-year, $2 million deal with a mutual $5 million option for 2013. The right-handed hitter, who was a second round pick of the Oakland A’s in 1999, declined his part of the option earlier this offseason.
The Reds reportedly made Ludwick a two-year offer earlier in the week.
As long as Ludwick passes his physical and the deal is finalized, he will rejoin an outfield that currently includes Jay Bruce in right field and Drew Stubbs in center field. Stubbs will likely open the season as a fourth outfielder; however, since the Reds want a difference-making center fielder who can occupy the leadoff spot.
A trade with Colorado for Dexter Fowler is a possibility. Troy Renck of the Denver Post speculated on Thursday that a deal for Fowler could include Reds starting pitcher Mike Leake and at least two prospects.
Cincinnati could have another transaction in the works as Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reported on Friday that the Rays are attempting to get Reds catching prospect Devin Mesoraco in a three-way trade.