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We knew he wouldn't come back for $5 mil, but he's still talking to the team about a more lucrative deal.
Ryan Ludwick has turned down his half of the $5 mil mutual option he had with the Reds, confirms Jon Heyman. It seems both sides are interested in a deal though, so it's still possible they could work something out.
Ducky had a tremendous bounce-back season in 2012 after a few abysmal years of bumming around the National League. He's a fer sher Comeback Player of the Year candidate based on his .275/.346/.531 slashline and his robust .373 wOBA. He also clubbed three home runs in the NLDS, which totally sucked honky apples but at least he didn't.
I pretty much expected him to decline his half of the option, as mutual options are rarely ever exercised by both sides. On the open market, he's probably the third-best outfielder behind Josh Hamilton and Melky Cabrera. For a team looking to sign an outfield bat this off-season, he could be a low-cost, low-risk alternative to the high-cost Hamilton and the high-risk Cabrera.
I'm really surprised and pleased by how well Ludwick performed this season, but I think it is important to remember that his season was still pretty uneven. His OPS in April and May was .684. He OPS'd an incredible .992 in three months from June through August, but cooled off a bit down the stretch and only hit .744 in September. So while he ended up with a great final OPS of .877, I'm not sure we can say we know who the real Ryan Ludwick is. At least, we don't know enough to give him a lucrative multi-year deal.
He's also going to be 34 next season. That's not yet old by baseball standards, but it's gettin' there. Maybe he regained his form and can consistently put up All-Star-caliber numbers for the next two or three years. Or maybe he just got hot for three months, as bad baseball players sometimes do. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.