THE PRESENT: Former Mud Hens OF Ryan Ludwick avoided arbitration by signing a one-year, $6.675 million contract with San Diego in January.
THE PAST: Ludwick bounced around before signing as a minor-league free agent with the Tigers in 2006. Originally drafted by Oakland, Ludwick was traded to Texas (in the Carlos Pena deal) before the 2002 season and played with the Rangers in 2002-03. He was traded to Cleveland in July of 2003 and spent parts of 2003-05 with the Tribe. Ludwick blossomed with the Mud Hens, batting .266 with 28 homers and 80 RBIs and earning a berth on the International League’s mid-season All-Star team. But he didn’t resign with the Tigers; instead he moved to St. Louis and became a mainstay in the Cardinals’ outfield from 2007-10. His best season in St. Louis was in 2008, when he was a National League All-Star and finished with a .299 batting average, 37 homers and 113 RBIs. Midway through last season he was traded to San Diego for the stretch run but hit just .211 with six homers and 26 RBIs for the Padres.
THE FUTURE: Ludwick will turn 33 in July, but there was no guarantees San Diego would resign him after last year’s flop. But with the offense-starved Padres trading Adrian Gonzalez to Boston, the team will need the slugger to give them some pop. While Petco Park will have a negative impact on his offense, look for Ludwick to rebound from last season’s struggles.
FOR MORE INFO: Dan Hayes of the North County Times put together this feature on Ludwick as he prepares for the 2011 season.