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Reds working to reach deal with free agent Ludwick

GM Jocketty waiting for outfielder's response to proposed two-year contract

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- As the Winter Meetings plowed on Tuesday, it appeared realistic that free-agent outfielder Ryan Ludwick could return to the Reds.

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty held talks in the morning with Ludwick's agent, Dan Horwits. The two sides are not very far apart.

"We're waiting to see what their response is to our offer," Jocketty said. "I think we're in the ballpark."

Jocketty seemed to be holding firm at not offering more than a two-year deal.

"I think they understand that," Jocketty said.

A deal could be reached during the Meetings, as the Reds want to cross this item off of their offseason checklist.

"I would hope so," Jocketty said. "We just need some certainty going forward with the rest of our roster."

Ludwick signed a one-year, $2.5 million with Cincinnati as a free agent last winter and proved to be a bargain. He batted .275 with 26 home runs and 80 RBIs and stepped up as big producer when Joey Votto was sidelined for six weeks with a knee injury.

After the season, the 34-year-old Ludwick declined a $5 million mutual option and sought to do better on the open market again.

Only one comparable outfielder has signed recently, former Reds left fielder Jonny Gomes, who inked a two-year, $10 million contract with the Red Sox. Perhaps that could be a road map toward getting a deal for Ludwick.

If the Reds and Ludwick are unable to come to terms, they could look to a similar outfielder like Cody Ross, who was in the free-agent picture last winter.

"We'd probably look at a couple of free agents like that, or work a little bit harder at trades," Jocketty said.

On that front, Jocketty did speak with the D-backs, who are reportedly looking to move outfielders Jason Kubel and Gerardo Parra.

"We've had some discussions. We don't see a match ... yet," Jocketty said.

As far as the club's other primary need -- leadoff hitter -- the Reds haven't made any new progress. Another free agent came off of the board Tuesday, when multiple reports had Shane Victorino signing a three-year, $39 million contract with the Red Sox. The Reds were not after Victorino, however.

"Not with those numbers I saw. No chance," Jocketty said.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.
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