- Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com MLB Sr. Writer
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Free agent outfielder Ryan Ludwick has reached agreement on a two-year, $15 million contract with the Cincinnati Reds pending completion of a physical exam, a baseball source confirmed Saturday to ESPN.com.
Ludwick, 34, hit .275 with 26 homers, 80 RBIs and an .877 OPS as Cincinnati's regular left fielder in 2012. He is a career .263 hitter with 143 home runs in 10 big league seasons with Texas, Cleveland, St. Louis, San Diego, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
Ludwick made a base salary of $2 million last season. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that his new contract includes a mutual option for 2015.
The Reds had expressed interest in acquiring a leadoff-hitting outfielder through free agency or a trade, but Ludwick's return appears to make it less likely that will happen. Last year, with rookie shortstop Zack Cozart logging the bulk of the at-bats in the No. 1 spot, Cincinnati's leadoff hitters ranked last in the major leagues with a .208 batting average and a .581 OPS.
Billy Hamilton, who set a minor league record with 155 stolen bases last season, switched from shortstop to the outfield during the Arizona Fall League and could arrive from the minors to take over the leadoff spot at some point next season.
2dKevin Van Valkenburg