Well, Cincinnati Reds fans, we’ve waited the whole month for some substantive news about what roster moves the team might make before the July 31 trade deadline, and now we finally know what’s on general manager Walt Jocketty’s mind. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Reds are telling other teams that leftfielder Ryan Ludwick can be had for the right price:
The #Reds are telling teams LF Ryan Ludwick is available, He’s earning $7.5M, w/ $9 millilon mutual option or $4.5 million buyout in 2015..
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 31, 2014
You can be forgiven if you chuckled, or even guffawed, when you read that tidbit, because it’s largely laughable. The major gripe from Reds fans and pundits all season long has been that the team’s surprising starting staff has been let down time and again by an offense that couldn’t find a hit in your grandma’s collection of Elvis records. Chief among the culprits has been the weakness emanating from leftfield, where Ludwick has slashed .261/.325/.392 with just six home runs in 77 games.
Now, those numbers aren’t the worst you’ll ever see in a Major League lineup, and in fact leaves Ludwick as an exactly league-average leftfielder as measured by OPS+. But Ludwick doesn’t offer much on defense, either, and he’s 36 with a recent history of injuries. And, for that enticing package, Ludwick is making the tidy sum of $8.5 million this season and will make $4.5 million on a buyout of 2015 from whichever team controls his contract at that point. (He has a mutual option for 2015 at $9 million, but really?)
From the outside, Jocketty’s declaration that Ludwick is available might appear to be an indication that the Reds are in “sell” mode, but it feels more like an “I tried something” tactic while the team stays the course for 2014. Standing pat is probably not so bad for this team, and certainly better than giving up young prospects for an already-doomed playoff run.
Just don’t expect to see Ryan Ludwick as the cornerstone of some contenders dash to the World Series, because he’s not the same player he was in 2012 when he landed that big contract.