It has been weeks since the Reds locked up their left fielder who posted huge numbers in their 2012 division winning season. Now that the dust has settled and we’ve all finished taking back those horrible Christmas gifts that our inlaws bought for us, it’s a good time to look back on the details of the contract.
2 years, $15 million and a club option for 2015. At face you would assume 7.5 per or 7 and then 8. But the Reds were able to get creative with the deal. $2 million of the 15 will be paid out as a signing bonus. Ludwick’s salary is $1 million this season. For 2014 Ludwick will make $7.5 mill. The remaining $4.5 mill is a buyout if the Reds turn down the $9 mill option for 2015.
First, consider the way that this contract is back loaded. If the Walt makes a few moves mid 2013 or even next winter and shops Ludwick, the Reds will have been on the hook for $3 million only. It’s far too early to consider who would be trade bait for next off season, but if it comes to that, this contract bodes well for the Reds. The buyout doesn’t seem likely, but if Ludwick drops off drastically, they can cut out of the contract by paying him half the price that they otherwise would for him to play in 2015.
Second, what about the value of this deal to the Reds? $15 mill guaranteed cash over 2 seasons is a sizable contract. Those who think that it is a bad deal for Cincinnati, or even fair, are living in the past. 10 years ago people could question that kind of money to a guy with a little bit of risk like Ludwick. Today, that contract is a steal. Cincinnati is a small market team and small market teams only survive and compete by sneaking deals like this one through. Ryan Ludwick was a legitimate #4 hitter by his numbers in 2012. He might not meet up with those in 2013, but he could also excel and be better. As each year passes, more and more mediocre players are getting bigger deals for more money and more years. Forget the Pujols’ Fielders and Vottos of the league. I am looking at mid level guys. Compare Ludwick’s deal to others that have signed in the last couple months:
Ryan Ludwick 2 years $15 million, club option for 2015 $9 million (Avg $7.5 per yr)
Lance Berkman 1 year $11 million, vesting option for 2014 $13 million (Avg $11 per yr)
Adam LaRoche 2 years $24 million, option for 2015 (Avg $12 per yr)
Cody Ross 3 years $26 million, option for 2016 (Avg $8.7 per yr)
Of the 4 deals, Ludwick is the cheapest. How about their 2012 numbers:
Ludwick (Reds) .275 BA .346OBP 26HR 80RBI
Berkman (97 PA in 2012) .259BA .381OBP 2HR 7RBI
LaRoche (Nationals) .271BA .343OBP 33HR 100RBI
Ross (Redsox) 3267BA .326OBP 22HR 81RBI
Berkman is going to be 37 years old before opening day. He is coming off of two knee surgeries and will likely not be returning to his 2011 form. If he gets to 550 PA’s this season then the option kicks in. But that doesn’t seem likely. I am afraid that he won’t be worth the money that the Rangers are throwing at him.
LaRoche had a good 2012. You can expect .270 from him every year as well as 20-25 HR’s. He made the choice, like Ludwick, to return to his 2012 division winning team.
Ross will not likely hit over .275 in during his contract. He does have a little pop and will give you 15-20 dingers per season.
This gives you a little idea of the market right now. Of the four guys listed, LaRoche and Ludwick’s 2012 numbers are the most alike. But while the Nationals are going to be paying LaRoche $24 mill, the Reds will only be paying $15 mill to Ludwick.
Well done Walt.
All has been quiet for the Reds as of late, but there seems to be one more lingering question: Will Rolen be back? No decision has been made. Rolen seems to be enjoying the idea of being retired, but as each day passes and he hasn’t made the official announcement, it appears that he is holding out hope. While many Reds fans would love for him to come back to fill the role that was held by Todd Frazier in 2012, it is possible that he could wear another uniform in 2013. The Reds have a spot for Rolen if he is interested. But the role he would play would be to rest Frazier and Votto. Would a former All Star be interested in playing the role of bench captain? It was reported that teams have contacted Chipper Jones to see how serious he was in his own retirement. Perhaps other teams have ideas that Scott Rolen could have just one more useful year in his bat (and back).
Pitchers and Catchers report in 35 days!