UPDATE: And now Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com says the Pirates, not the Indians, are “close” to acquiring Ludwick from the Padres.
Last night the Indians and Padres were said to be discussing a deal for outfielder Ryan Ludwick and now Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports reports that the two sides are “getting close” to pulling the trigger.
Ludwick has been terrible for the Padres since they acquired him from the Cardinals in the middle of last season, hitting .228 with a .301 on-base percentage and .358 slugging percentage in 160 games, but he wouldn’t be the first power hitter to see his production plummet calling Petco Park home.
Ludwick has been only slightly better on the road since joining the Padres and may simply have declined at age 33, but he hit .280 with a .507 slugging percentage in three-plus seasons for the Cardinals and the impending free agent figures to come with modest price tag.
This would be Ludwick’s second go-around in Cleveland, as he spent 2003 to 2005 in the Indians’ farm system and played a total of 73 games for them in the majors before leaving as a minor-league free agent at age 27.
We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.
Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”
Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).
Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.