MLB Free Agents 2012: Reds Add Big Bat with Ryan Ludwick Signing

Eric BallFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 19:  Ryan Ludwick #36 of the Pittsburgh Pirates bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on September 19, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Diamondbacks defeated the Pirates 1-0.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Reds continue to work under the radar and are quietly building a World Series contender in the process.

Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal reported the Reds signed free agent utility man Ryan Ludwick on Monday night to a one-year deal worth $2.5M that can reach $3M with incentives.

The 33-year-old is coming off a mediocre season in which he hit .237 with 13 home runs and 75 RBI in 139 games with the San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Reds GM Walt Jocketty is familiar with the Satellite Beach, Florida native from their days together in the Cardinals organization. Ludwick spent the better part of four seasons in St. Louis.

Now he joins a Reds team that keeps on dealing.

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 20:  Starting pitcher Mat Latos #38 of the San Diego Padres works the second inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 20, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

They already made one of the boldest trades of the offseason in landing starting pitcher Mat Latos. They also traded for setup man Sean Marshall and signed closer Ryan Madson.

With the pitching staff secure, Jocketty turned his attention to the outfield. Aside from RF Jay Bruce, CF Drew Stubbs and the versatile Chris Heisey, the outfield rotation was highly in question.

Ludwick provides a veteran presence with playoff experience. He is also an established pinch hitter, something that is much more difficult than you’d think.

Expect Ludwick to start roughly 100 games and provided unbelievable defense. In over 700 games, the utility man has an incredibly low 11 errors.

While he isn’t going to hit 25 home runs again, the small measurements of Great American Ballpark should give his numbers from 2011 a sizable boost.

Playing against the Astros, Cubs and Pirates regularly will help as well.

It’s the latest move that fits the Reds tight budget yet makes the team better in the process. With Albert Pujols out of St. Louis and Prince Fielder all but forgotten in Milwaukee, the Reds are going to enter the 2012 season as the team to beat in the NL Central. 


Follow BigLeagueEball on Twitter