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Ludwick signs with Rangers

Some quick former Reds news. Free agent outfielder Ryan Ludwick signed a Minor League contract with the Rangers and will be in Spring Training as a non-roster player at big league camp. He will compete for a spot in left field and DH with Texas.

Ludwick, 36, played for the Rangers in parts of the 2002-03 seasons. He was with the Reds from 2012-14 and batted .258/.324/.441 with 37 home runs and 137 RBIs in 275 games. Most of the big production came in 2012, when he had 26 homers and 80 RBIs. The 2013 season began with a separated right shoulder suffered on Opening Day and Ludwick never returned to the power threat he was the final two seasons in Cincinnati. There was no expectation that he would return when last season ended.

Click below for T.R. Sullivan’s story:

http://m.rangers.mlb.com/news/article/108356872/veteran-outfielder-ryan-ludwick-signs-minor-league-deal-with-rangers

Reds, Louisville sign extension

During a press conference to formally introduce new manager Delino DeShields, the Reds and Triple-A Louisville revealed Wednesday that they agreed to a two-year extension of their player development contract. The original affiliate agreement was to end following the 2016 season.

Louisville and the Reds have been partnered since the 2000 season. The Bats play their games at Louisville Slugger Field in the city’s downtown.

Only about 90 minutes south of Cincinnati, Louisville has been a pretty good situation for the Reds to get players when someone is needed to be called up in a pinch. It’s also been the last rung of development for many of the team’s stars including Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Homer Bailey, Todd Frazier, Devin Mesoraco and Billy Hamilton.

Reds sign LHP Maholm

The Reds have signed left-handed pitcher Paul Maholm to a Minor League contract and invited him to big league camp at Spring Training.

Maholm was 1-5 with a 4.84 ERA in 30 games for the Dodgers in 2014, including eight starts. He’s also pitched for the Pirates, Braves and Cubs during a 10-year career.

This is the second veteran pitcher signed by Cincinnati in the past two week to a Minor League deal. RHP Jason Marquis was signed on Jan. 21 and will compete for a rotation spot. UPDATE: General manager Walt Jocketty said Maholm was signed to compete for a rotation spot as well. That would add him to the list of guys competing for the final two spots — which include Marquis, Tony Cingrani, Anthony DeScalfani, David Holmberg, Raisel Iglesias and Dylan Axelrod.

Maholm could also be added left-handed bullpen depth for the Reds, which already has Manny Parra and Sean Marshall on the 40-man roster and Jose Mijares as a non-roster invite. Marshall is still trying to return from shoulder surgery however.

Pena’s Patriots prediction

Last week before Reds Caravan kicked off, I encountered backup catcher Brayan Pena knowing he would have a view on the upcoming Super Bowl between the Patriots and Seahawks. Pena is an enthusiastic Patriots fan as you may guess from the quotes that follow.

“New England, baby, they’re definitely going to win it,” Pena said. “Seattle had trouble with Green Bay. New England is a much better team than Green Bay. I still believe Seattle just got lucky, to be honest with. On the onside kick, if they missed the ball, it would be a totally different game. With New England, that’s not going to happen.

“We have too many weapons to use. We can run the football. We have wide receivers. We have [Tom] Brady. We have the defense. It’s too much.”

How did Pena, who hails from Cuba, become a supporter of the Patriots?

“I’ve been a Patriot fan for years, ever since 2000 when I got here to the States,” Pena said. “The first professional athlete I met was Tom Brady. He was so humble and so kind. I had a man-crush on the guy. And his wife is Giselle — you can’t go wrong with that.”

Pena’s predicted score for a Patriots win in Glendale?

“I would say 27-20, definitely,” he said.

On Sunday during the Reds’ Select-a-Seat event at GABP, a fan asked Pena about the “deflategate” scandal that hovers over the Patriots. His reply?

“I don’t speak English,” he said, getting a laugh from the crowd.

Sheldon on MLB Now

I was invited to do a live shot Wednesday on MLB Network’s MLB Now show. We covered topics you’re likely familiar with as Reds fans — Mesoraco, Cueto, the rotation and Votto. But feel free to take a look anyway.

Details on Mesoraco contract

Full story on MLB.com: click here

Here are some details on the four-year, $28 million contract signed Monday by Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco:

Year-by-year breakdown:

2015: $2.4 million
2016: $4.9 million
2017: $7.2 million
2018: $13.0 million

Signing Bonus: $500,000

Playing Time Incentives: For every season 2015 through 2017 Mesoraco reaches 502 plate appearances, the 2018 season salary escalates $400k (maximum cap of $1.2 million)

Incentives: Mesoraco’s 2018 salary can reach an additional $150,000 for every All Star selection, Silver Slugger Award and Gold Glove, an additional $200,000 for a top five in MVP voting, an additional $150,000 for placing 6-10 in MVP voting, $100,000 for placing 6th through 15th in MVP voting and $50,000 for 16-20th (maximum cap of $800,000)

The total maximum cap of escalators for the 2018 salary is $2 million — which means the deal could be worth $30 million.

One percent of his total salary ($230,000 over four years) benefits the Reds Community Fund.

Extra quotes about the signing:

“This is the only organization that I’ve ever known. It’s always been a pleasure to be part of the Reds. This was definitely something I was very excited to really go forward with.” — Devin Mesoraco

“It’s another example of the organization trying to step up and reward a young player we’re very proud of. We Drafted him out of high school. He has overcome some setbacks during his career, but not many. He’s worked really hard. It’s an example of a guy that’s worked extremely hard, has a good work ethic and the type of guy we want to build our organization around.” — Reds GM Walt Jocketty

“When he hit the way he did and caught the way he did [last season], we thought we better get him signed as soon as we can. I think it was a breakout year for him. I saw him when I first got over here and first saw him in Sarasota. When I saw him in Lynchburg, I could see he was really starting to make some change, really progressing and start to come into his own. Watching him grow through the organization is kind of the fun part of our job and develop into one of the best young catchers in the game. You try to lock those guys up and keep them part of your organization as long as you can.” — Jocketty

Four-year deal for Mesoraco

The Reds and catcher Devin Mesoraco have agreed to a four-year contract on Monday, MLB.com learned from two sources. Mesoraco has already taken his physical and will sign the deal later today and have a media availability.

Terms aren’t known just yet but the deal would cover all three arbitration years and one year of free agent eligiblity.

The club has not announced a deal.

Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman remain still arbitration eligible for the Reds.

UPDATE: It’s a four-year, $28 million contract for Mesoraco, says source. Still waiting for word from the team.

Extension near for Mesoraco?

MLB Trade Rumors is reporting that the Reds and catcher Devin Mesoraco are nearing an agreement on a multi-year contract extension that would avoid arbitration.

Mesoraco is first-year arbitration eligible and filed for $3.6 million while the Reds offered $2.45 million. He made $525,000 last season.

“My agent came back to me a couple of times. It’s more in his hands,” Mesoraco told me during Reds Caravan last week.

Mesoraco, 26, is open to a multi-year contract and it was something general manager Walt Jocketty said had been discussed on the day salary figures were exchanged.

“Definitely, no doubt,” Mesoraco said of his desire for a multi-year deal. “I definitely enjoy it here. It’s a perfect city for me. Team-wise, I feel as comfortable as I could possibly feel.”

Louisville caravan stop 2015

It was no surprise to see a large and loud turnout Thursday for the annual Reds caravan stop in Louisville, home of the club’s Triple-A affiliate — the Bats.

The panel of Reds included CEO Bob Castellini, Joe Morgan, Brayan Pena, J.J Hoover, former reliever Scott Williamson, prospect Phillip Ervin, and Marty Brennaman.

Also of no shock: the first question of the fan Q&A was about former catcher Corky Miller, a popular player here and the only Louisville player to have his number retired at Louisville Slugger Field.

Among other tidbits:

Pena has been working out in Miami with Cuban pitcher Raisel Iglesias. “He can’t wait for Spring Training,” Pena said of Iglesias.

Castellini was asked a question about Pete Rose and whether he would be around for the All-Star Game

“You’ll definitely see Pete Rose at the All-Star Game this year,” Castellini said.

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Price confident about Votto

During the hectic Thursday morning at the Reds Hall of Fame before the launch of 2015 Reds Caravan, manager Bryan Price had another positive update about first baseman Joey Votto and the first one since Redsfest in early December.

Votto, who missed 100 games last season with a distal strain of his left quadriceps, has been monitored by Reds strength and conditioning coach Sean Marohn during the offseason.

“The last report when Sean was up in Toronto earlier this month was very, very good,” Price said. “The strength was outstanding, the stamina was good and the agility. Right now, we’re looking to hit the ground running when Joey gets to Goodyear and being able to see with our own eyes where he’s at. I’m confident that he’s going to be ready to go.”

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