It’s about time that somebody did.
Cody Ross is getting all kinds of hits — the latest coming from the Yankees — after batting .267/.326/.481 with 22 homers and 81 RBI in 476 at-bats for the Red Sox last season. The market for Ryan Ludwick, on the other hand, has been very quiet, even though he came in at .275/.346/.531 with 26 homers and 80 RBI in 422 at-bats for the Reds last season.
Of course, Ludwick isn’t known for his consistency. Still, he matches up just fine with Ross over the last three years. He has a 107 OPS+ during that span, while Ross is at 105.
The other thing working in Ludwick’s favor is that he has a big edge over Ross against right-handed pitchers. Ludwick hit .280/.340/.513 against righties in 2012, compared to .256/.308/.422 for Ross. Lifetime, Ludwick has an .811 OPS against righties and a .774 OPS against lefties. Ross has a .727 OPS against righties and a .928 OPS against lefties.
There are reasons to prefer Ross. One is that he’s almost 2 1/2 years younger. He’s also probably the better defender of the two, though Baseball-reference WAR rates them similarly poorly the last couple of years.
On the other hand, there’s one more big reason to prefer Ludwick, and that’s that Ross wants a three-year, $24 million deal. Ludwick seems likely to settle for a one- or two-year contract.
The New York Post’s Joel Sherman says the Mets are interested in Ludwick, though money is tight and it’s iffy whether they’ll be able to afford him. The Reds have an offer on the table to re-sign him, and more suitors could step up once Ross is off the market.
Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.
Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.
Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.
Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.
Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.
Tommy Stokke of RanRag Sports reports that the Braves and Rangers agreed to a trade. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Braves will receive pitcher Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Brady Feigl.
Jackson, 25, is under team control through 2022. He has logged only 18 innings in the majors, yielding 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks with three strikeouts. While Jackson has struggled with control, the Braves likely see upside because his fastball sits in the mid- to high-90’s.
Jenkins, 24, is also under team control through 2022. The right-hander made eight starts and six relief appearances in his first major league season in 2016, putting up a 5.88 ERA with a 26/33 K/BB ratio over 52 innings.
Feigl, 25, was an undrafted free agent and was signed by the Braves in 2013. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and briefly rehabbed in rookie ball this past season.