Ludwick signs 2-year, $15 million deal with Reds

Ludwick signs 2-year, $15 million deal with Reds

CINCINNATI (AP) Ryan Ludwick left the Reds to see if there was a better deal available on the free agent market. He found at least one, but turned it down to stay with Cincinnati.

The left fielder signed a two-year, $15 million deal on Monday that includes a mutual option for the 2015 season. He agreed to the contract over the weekend and came for the formal announcement.

The 34-year-old outfielder batted .275 with 26 homers and 80 RBIs in 125 games last season, when he started 107 times in left field. After first baseman Joey Votto got hurt at midseason, Ludwick emerged as one of the team's most consistent run producers, helping the Reds win the NL Central for the second time in three years.

``I think ultimately I've always wanted to prove that one All-Star year wasn't a fluke and I can be an All-Star again,'' said Ludwick, an All-Star with St. Louis in 2008. ``The ultimate goal would be to win a World Series. That's one of the reasons I came back here. I think we have guys in place one through nine (in the batting order). We brought back pretty much the whole team.''

Ludwick hit three homers during the Reds' first-round loss to the San Francisco Giants in the playoffs.

He came to Cincinnati on a one-year, $2 million deal for 2012 that included a mutual option for 2013 at $5 million. Instead, he took a $500,000 buyout, interested in seeing what other teams would offer. General manager Walt Jocketty made an offer, then waited to see what Ludwick decided.

``He had several clubs chasing after him, two or three in particular that would have been attractive places,'' Jocketty said. ``At least one had more money on the table. I think it's a credit to Ryan that we tried to make a deal that was fair, that we felt comfortable with.''

Ludwick struggled in the first half of the season. When Votto needed knee surgery and missed 48 games, Ludwick became one of Cincinnati's top hitters, batting .340 with 12 homers and 36 RBIs while the first baseman recovered. Jocketty made keeping him a priority.

``He was a very important part of our success last year as a middle-of-the-order bat,'' Jocketty said. ``It was a bat we had to replace somehow, and I wanted Luddy back for a lot of reasons. I think he'll continue to do well in this ballpark and he'll continue to provide leadership with this ballclub.''

It's the Reds' second major deal in the offseason to keep their roster intact.

Closer Ryan Madson also exercised his contract option after the season and signed with the Angels. The Reds gave Jonathan Broxton a three-year, $21 million deal, which allows them to use him as the closer and move Aroldis Chapman back into the rotation. The Reds got Broxton in a trade from Kansas City in July, and he became a free agent after the season.

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Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game


Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game

You thought the Caps had a goalie rotation before, but now they have added a third netminder in the mix.

Pheonix Copley has been recalled from the Hershey Bears and will backup Philipp Grubauer for Washington's game in Detroit, the team announced Thursday.

The move comes in response to an injury concern for Braden Holtby.


Dallas Stars forward Remi Elie collided with Holtby midway through the third period on Tuesday as Holtby was extending to make a save. Holtby reacted awkwardly to the collision and could be seen skating and flexing his leg during the next stoppage.

With only nine games remaining in the regular season, Holtby's injury is a major concern. Given his recent struggles, the final few weeks of the season offered a chance for Holtby to get his game back to form. Just where his game will be when he is 100-percent healthy again is certainly a storyline to watch.


The good news for Washington, however, is that Grubauer is perhaps more ready this season to lead the team than he ever has been and confidence in him around the team should be high.

Since Thanksgiving, Grubauer has played in 22 games with a 17-11-4 record, a .939 save percentage, 1.85 GAA and two shutouts. No goalie who has played in 20 games or more has registered a better save percentage or GAA. He will certainly be looked upon to carry the load until Holtby returns. Whether this means he now has the inside track on starting in the playoffs, however, remains to be seen. That will depend largely on just when Holtby is ready to return and how Grubauer plays down the stretch.

Copley, 26, has gone 14-16-6 with two shutouts, a .898 save percentage and 2.86 GAA in 38 games in Hershey this season. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Washington in 2014. He was traded to the St. Louis Blues in the package that netted the Caps T.J. Oshie, but was reacquired by Washington in Feb. 2017 in a trade deadline deal that included Kevin Shattenkirk.

At the time, it was believed Copley would be the team's backup for the 2017-18 season with Grubauer likely headed to Vegas in the expansion draft. Vegas, however, took Nate Schmidt instead which led to Copley spending the season in Hershey. The Caps now will be happy for the extra goalie depth for as long as Holtby's health remains a concern.

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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