According to a weekend report in the Cincinnati Enquirer, it seems Reds outfielder Ryan Ludwick might have erred when he decided to turn down his part of a mutual option to play for Cincinnati in 2013.
John Fay said the Reds have more than $71 million committed to payroll for next season and that the club's budget for 2013 is likely to be less than $90 million. So, with a closer and a lead-off man high on the off-season to-do list -- and seven arbitration eligible players expected to push the financial commitment to next season to $85 million before general manager Walt Jocketty does any shopping -- it would be surprising if Cincinnati had the flexibility to sign Ludwick to the lucrative, multi-year extension he desires.
And there is still the possibility that Scott Rolen might decide to play one more year, forcing the Reds to cut corners elsewhere if they plan to keep him.
Ludwick could have doubled his pay from $2.5 million to $5 million for 2013. But he opted to roll the dice. And I wonder if there are any teams out there who are going to sign a guy who has had one good year in the last three with -- and who is 34 years old -- to a long term deal. Ludwick hit more than 17 homers for the first time since 2009 last year and cracked .238 in the batting average department for the first time in the same span. But 16 of his 26 long balls came at the cozy Great American Ballpark.
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It seems like Ludwick's market is going to be cash poor teams who have a willingness to take a gamble at finding some cheap power or clubs that already have a good nucleus that are looking for reasonably priced complimentary pieces. The Reds are basically the latter and the deal he had on the books seems pretty close to what he's likely to be offered elsewhere. But when Melky Cabrera gets $26 million bucks after being suspended for PED use and several mediocre outfielders got two or three-year deals last off season, it's no surprise that Ludwick would be eager to cash in.
While Brandon Phillips' contract extension will actually give the Reds a little bit of room, paying him $10 million in 2013 after he made $12.5 million in 2012, Cincinnati will literally start to pay the price next year for the luxury of keeping first baseman Joey Votto around.
Votto, 29, signed a 10-year, $225 million contract extension next season, will make $17 million in 2013 after pulling down $9.5 million last year. Cincinnati will get a short term break in 2014 when the new deal kicks in. He'll make $12 million in 2014 and $14 million in 2015 before the big bucks kick in and he bumps to $20 million in 2016, $22 million in 2017 and then $25 million a year for 2018-2023.