CINCINNATI -- The Reds formally announced on Wednesday that they signed outfielder Ryan Ludwick to a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2013.The deal, which will pay Ludwick $2.5 million in 2012, was agreed upon on Jan. 16 and was pending a physical. To make room on their 40-man roster, the Reds designated right-hander Carlos Fisher for assignment. Cincinnati also announced that they signed left-hander Jeff Francis to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. That deal was agreed upon Jan. 25.
Ludwick, 33, batted .237 with 13 home runs last season in a combined 139 games with the Padres and Pirates. He has a history with Reds general manager Walt Jocketty, having played for him with the Cardinals. Ludwick spent the 2007-09 seasons in St. Louis and hit a career-best 37 homers with 113 RBIs in '08."Any time you've been counted down and out like I have for a year and a half, it's tough on you mentally," Ludwick told MLB.com last month. "I've been busting my butt to get back to where I was. I'll try to open some eyes, be a good teammate and help the club win. I think having another World Series in Cincinnati would be unbelievable. I'd like to get back to the playoffs myself. It's been since 2009 for me." Ludwick is a career .261 hitter with 117 home runs and a .332 on-base percentage over nine big league seasons. He will become Cincinnati's fourth outfielder, likely to see much of his playing time in left field while sharing the spot with Chris Heisey. He should also provide some right-handed power off the bench. "It's not a knock at San Diego or Pittsburgh, but it will be nice to be in control of the situation of where I want to play," Ludwick said last week.
In 30 career games at Great American Ball Park, Ludwick has batted .276 with nine homers, 21 RBIs and a .921 OPS.
Francis, 30, was 6-16 with a 4.82 ERA in 31 starts last season with the Royals. He previously was with the Rockies, from 2004-10. He was a 17-game winner in 2007.Francis is 61-66 with a 4.78 ERA in 181 Major League games, all but one of starts. The chances of Francis cracking the Reds' starting five could be long. Cincinnati already had six pitchers in Johnny Cueto, new acquisition Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman vying for five spots.