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.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.