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Reds leave Meetings with unfinished business

Club awaits Ludwick's decision regarding two-year deal; leadoff search continues
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Reds had designs this week on making headway in their search for a new leadoff hitter and also hoped to re-sign free-agent left fielder Ryan Ludwick.

Neither got done during the Winter Meetings.

While Reds general manager Walt Jocketty got nowhere with the leadoff hitter, Ludwick's addition remains very realistic. A two-year offer is on the table.

"The agent said he spoke to Ryan last night, and he's still contemplating some things I guess," Jocketty said before departing Nashville on Thursday. "Two years is not a problem. It's not the issue."

The issue is money, which a lot of teams threw around this week on the second-tier free agents. Two outfielders were signed to large deals -- Angel Pagan, who signed for four years at $40 million with the Giants, and Shane Victorino, who went to Boston in a reported three-year, $39 million deal.

Infielder Jeff Keppinger, long a utility man and a former Red, got his first multiyear contract by agreeing to a three-year, $12 million deal with the White Sox.

The high prices have added complications for the Reds in getting a deal done with Ludwick.

"It's affecting a lot of things," Jocketty said.

This is the fourth straight year the Reds left the Winter Meetings without Jocketty ever having to step to the media-room podium to discuss a deal. In past years, talks toward a deal gained momentum during the Meetings and wrapped shortly after. Cincinnati made the trades for pitchers Mat Latos and Sean Marshall later in December last year.

"We've had some talks with clubs that really haven't gone anywhere this week," Jocketty said. "We'll stay in touch, but I don't think anything is imminent."

Here's a look at the week that was for the Reds at the Winter Meetings:

Deals done: None

Rule 5 activity: None in the Major League phase, and no unprotected players were lost. In the Triple-A phase, the Reds added shortstop Michael Gilmartin from the Athletics and left-handed pitcher Ryan Dennick from the Royals. They lost third baseman Marquez Smith to the Rangers.

Goals accomplished: There was early momentum in talks for the Reds at the onset of the Meetings, but the club did not get as serious as it hoped on potential deals. The lack of trades made league-wide was surprising to those in the Reds' suite.

Unfinished business: A good amount. Besides trying to lock up a deal with Ludwick, the Reds still want someone for the leadoff spot and need bench help with a backup infielder. There were talks with free agent utility player Jack Hannahan, who is being courted by several clubs in need of a third baseman.

GM's bottom line: "We came here with great anticipation and optimism on doing certain things. When they don't work out, it's a little disappointing. But we're certainly not through with trying to improve the club. This was such an odd Winter Meetings, very odd. There weren't a lot of trade discussions. I think the free agents and clubs trying to make these multiteam deals slowed things down." -- Jocketty

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

Cincinnati Reds, Mat Latos, Ryan Ludwick, Sean Marshall