Reds outfielder Ryan Ludwick became a free agent Wednesday after declining his $5 million contract option for next season, looking for a bigger deal after his strong second half played a big role in Cincinnati winning the NL Central title.
The 34-year-old Ludwick was the Reds’ top hitter while first baseman Joey Votto missed 48 games with a knee injury, batting .340 with 12 homers and 36 RBI. Ludwick hit .275 overall in 125 games with 26 homers and 80 RBI. He went 6 for 18 (.333) with three homers, four RBI and four walks in the division series loss to World Series champion San Francisco.
The Reds signed Ludwick to a one-year deal for 2012 that included a $2 million base salary, and he earned an additional $350,000 in performance bonuses based on plate appearances. After turning down his part of a mutual option for 2013, he gets a $500,000 buyout. Although the Reds are interested in keeping him, Ludwick decided to see what kind of deal he can get on the open market.
Relief pitcher Ryan Madson also became a free agent Wednesday after declining a mutual option. The right-hander needed reconstructive elbow surgery after tearing a ligament during spring training and missed the entire season. Left-hander Aroldis Chapman moved into the role and saved 38 games in 43 chances.
Madson had a $6 million salary this year, of which $2 million was deferred until Thursday and another $2 million until Nov. 1, 2013. He agreed to that deal in January after a $44 million, four-year deal to stay with the Philadelphia Phillies collapsed last November.
Madson would have made $11 million next year under the mutual option. Instead, he got a $2.5 million buyout. The Reds weren’t going to exercise the 2013 option. They’ve expressed an interest in signing him to a less-expensive deal and giving him a chance to continue his recovery.
Jonathan Broxton was Cincinnati’s other reliever with closing experience. The Reds got him from Kansas City in a trade at the July deadline. His contract also was up after the season.