Cincinnati Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick will decline his end of a mutual option for next season, passing up the $5 million salary that came with it and opting instead to become a free agent.
The Reds signed Ludwick last offseason for $2 million in 2012, with the mutual option for 2013 clocking it at the aforementioned $5 million. It was a low risk deal for Cincinnati after Ludwick had a disappointing 2011 season split between the Padres and Pirates where he OPSed just .673 and homered 13 times. But in 2012, Ludwick substantially rebounded, posting an .877 OPS and hitting 27 homers, his highest total since a 37 homer breakout year in 2008 with the Cardinals.
Ludwick will be 34 next July, and the market for corner outfields this offseason is rather weak, with Melky Cabrera, Torii Hunter, Juan Pierre, Cody Ross, Nick Swisher, and Delmon Young as the highlights. Ludwick could probably get something like $8 million a year over two or three seasons from a team needing to fill a hole.
For the Reds, they'll try to re-sign Ludwick, althought it will be at a higher salary than they initially budgeted for. His potential departure also creates a hole for the team to fill in free agency, when they didn't need to do much shopping this offseason to begin with. This postseason, Ludwick led the Reds with a 1.288 OPS and hit three of the team's five homers in their 3-2 series loss in the NLDS to the Giants.