The Rangers signed veteran outfielder Ryan Ludwick to a minor league contract yesterday. It is the perverbial lightning in a bottle signing.
Ludwick is the quintessential Jon Daniels signing. Damaged goods. Low risk. Low investment.
He comes back to the team he broke into the major leagues with, having played parts of two seasons with the Rangers in 2002 and 2003 before being traded to Cleveland for Ricardo Rodriguez and Shane Spencer.
Ludwick has the distinction of being one of only fifty-seven players in major league history who throws left but bats right.
He has played thirteen years for six teams, including Texas, Cleveland, Saint Louis, San Diego, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Looking at that resume, you can spot a pattern. He is a darling of small budget clubs.
Ludwick’s best season was 2008 with the Cardinals when he slugged 37 HRs with 137 RBIs, and followed that up with 22 and 97 in 09.
The Rangers are hoping that’s the Ryan Ludwick who shows up to Surprise.
While he did have a strong season in 2012 with 26 HRs and 80 RBIs, since then he’s been mostly injured or disappointing. Which is exactly the reason he landed on the desk of Jon Daniels, who is operating under the small budget club mentality this off-season.
Does Ludwich have anything left in the tank? Is he this year’s Kevin Kouzmanoff? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s certainly worth a shot. And, he has one more All-Star Game appearance than Shin-Soo Choo, whom he played with for two years in Cincinnati.
If Ludwick does find that Ludwick of old, he will either give Ryan Rua a run or his money in left field, give Mitch Moreland a spot on the pine as DH, or be a nice power bat off the bench.
Low risk. Low investment. Low expectations.
But worth the chance.