For the second time in six weeks, Mike Ford has chosen to opt out of his contract with the Cincinnati Reds. He did so near the end of spring training after being told that he would not make the clubs opening day roster. Less than a week later he re-signed with Cincinnati on a minor league deal and was assigned to Triple-A Louisville.

Ford, who is now 31-years-old, hit .228/.323/.475 for the Seattle Mariners in 2023. That came along with a career high in games, plate appearances, and home runs (16). His OPS+ came out to an impressive 121. Still, teams weren’t all that moved by his production as he’s had to settle for minor league deals twice since the season ended last October.

With his opting out in spring training, he didn’t re-sign his new minor league deal until just after the Triple-A season began. He went 0-8 in the first two games with Louisville. Since then he’s crushed the ball for the Bats, hitting .325/.412/.590 with four doubles, six home runs, two steals, 12 walks, and 18 strikeouts in 97 plate appearances. That’s what you would expect from a guy who has hit in the big leagues who is down in Triple-A.

Jon Heyman of MLB Network is reporting that with the opt out, the Reds now have a couple of days to decide whether to add him to the 26-man big league roster, or to grant him his release.

As a first baseman/designated hitter option, that likely means the club has to decide between Ford or one of Nick Martini and Bubba Thompson as the final guy on the bench. The latter two are capable of playing in the outfield, while Ford isn’t, but Thompson specifically is only being used as a pinch runner and defensive replacement unless absolutely pressed due to a short bench. Martini’s got some pop and has been serving as the team’s designated hitter and one of the left-handed hitting bench options for pinch-hit usage at times during the season.

Both Martini and Thompson have options and can be sent to Triple-A. That makes that part of a potential transaction easy. The less easy part would be finding a 40-man roster spot for Ford. With Ian Gibaut once again being called back from a rehab appearance after experiencing more arm issues, perhaps a move to the 60-day injured list with him could be on the table. If not, then the team would have to designate someone for assignment.

Ford is a left-handed hitter. So is Nick Martini. He could fill that role if the team were looking specifically to keep a power lefty bat around. Bubba Thompson hits from the right side, but he’s also never really asked to hit. His role is more defense/speed on the bases. Cincinnati may be missing out on that without him, but with TJ Friedl likely to return in the next few weeks, they wouldn’t be missing out on it for very long.

It seems like an easy decision to add a potential power bat to the team in the place of a seldom used outfielder with a .278 OPS in Thompson. But the front office may not be looking at the same kinds of things that the rest of us are. Even so, since being hot for the first three games of the year, Martini’s hitting .156/.174/.234 with one walk and 20 strikeouts. Simply swapping his bat out for Ford’s while keeping the defense and pinch running abilities for Thompson could make sense, too.

30 Responses

  1. Grand Salami

    Still no lineup less than 2.5 hours out. Maybe he’s flying out!

    • Grand Salami

      And adding him seems like a no brainer. Sad he had to force the issue considering the Reds should have been more proactive.

    • Old Big Ed

      No such luck. Still no Stephenson, CES or Fraley.

      The day off tomorrow can’t come fast enough for these guys to recover.

      • Jim Walker

        Yeah, it seems there is more going on with Fraley than just wanting Fairchild in CF over Benson. If wanting SF in CF was the real driver, they still could use Fraley at DH and have Martini as a LH bench bat for later.

      • Jim Walker

        I was encouraged when they were proactive with the Montas situation by immediately sending him to the IL and bringing in pitching help.

        Not so much so now with how they are handling Stephenson’s situation. I guess it is because he is a catcher and they have no 40 man catcher to bring up and don’t want to spend the possible 60 day move on Gibaut. They are already at the 3 day maximum retroactive period on TS so, there is no gain left in delaying if they believe he will out 10 days or more.

    • Daniel

      Mike ford was a former Yankee and I’m a Yankee fan and he did well there. But he has been in the Mariners club 4 different times! But he hasn’t seemed to find a good team to stay in the club for awhile. So the Reds do seem to be a club he should stay in.

  2. Laredo Slider

    Wow, bottom 5 in today’s lineup is pathetic.

  3. GreatRedLegsFan

    I’d keep Thompson (until Friedl’s return) and either DFA Martini or send CES to IL or AAA, both are struggling mightly anyhow.

    • MK

      One thing hurting Martini’s numbers right now, surprisingly he is hitting 40 points higher versus lefties than righties. But Ford has been about 100 points higher versus lefties at Louisville. Neither are providing the dominance over right-handed pitching you would like to see.

  4. LDS

    Move on from Martini. Give Ford a shot. What’s the harm?

    • AMDG

      I’d rather give Honda a shot. Seems a little more reliable than Ford 🙂

  5. David

    The Reds are a little short of outfielders right now, but on the other hand, they are also somewhat short of offense.
    Martini did have a big opening day, but as has been noted, not hitting much now.

    Bennie Thompson…meh. He’s gone anyways when TJ Friedl comes back.

    Put Gibaut on the 60 day IL, add Ford to the 40 man, send down Thompson and bring up Ford. Let him either play 1st or DH against RH pitching. Friedl is about 14 days away from being added to the 26 man roster anyways.
    Punt the decision until then. If Martini or Ford are hitting/not hitting, one of them goes down to bring up Friedl in mid-May.

  6. RedsGettingBetter

    It would be interesting to ask Krall what is the argument about keeping Martini & Bubba so long since they have options and there are guys like Ford and Capel hitting well at triple-A and could replace the most part of their roles in play…

    • Droslovinia

      The Reds are trying to make history this year, so they need as many shots at the Mendoza line as they can get?

    • Ksdavis

      I think sometimes the Reds are afraid to pull the trigger. Afraid if they let someone go they will excel someplace else. On an interesting comment in the Cincinnati paper after the NFL draft. Talked about how the Chiefs and not Bengals were in a way n now mode. Reds seem to follow the Bengals pattern. Ford is 31 so the Reds probably don’t tho k he is part of the future. But the Reds need to do something to see if the can jumpstart the offense. Is Ford the answer? Who knows. But the Reds should give him a chance until TJ come back.

  7. Jim Walker

    2 thoughts>> Are the expiring rights on Ford tradable? Are the Reds looking for a catcher b/c they anticipate TS being out for a while? Could they be holding off on Ford and a 60 day move on Gibaut because of these possibilities? (Or is this 3 thoughts) 🙂

    • Ksdavis

      TS will probably be back Friday. TV broadcast said they were actively participating in pre game activities.

  8. Roger Garrett

    Three guys out that would have made the team and now this day to day injury stuff and we are just awful on offense.Bubba runs and plays defense as the 26th man and Stuie and Martini taking up the 24th/25th spots and we as fans are discussing Ford and what to do with him.No brainier for me and why isn’t he already up here may be the bigger question.We seem to be asleep at the wheel for the most part regarding injuries and how long these guys will be out.First its India and Fraley and now its Fraley again along with CES/Tyler.I don’t care who you are when your back up catcher and your 24,25 and 26 man are playing a lot then well your in trouble.Whats the harm in trying Ford?

    • JB

      The Reds are afraid that they let Bubba go all the other 29 teams will swoop in and him. I mean who wouldn’t want a guy with a .278 OPS? Those are the guys Bell loves. This move should have been made a month ago. Heck bring up Burdick to play the outfield. At this point in time I would let the pitcher bat . Same ol Reds. Day to day is more week to week.

      • greenmtred

        Seriously? Bell loves guys with .278 OPS? Why doesn’t Bubba start every day, then? If you look at the players available, you will see that many of them are not hitting well right now. And if you look at the lineups of other teams, you will see that they have plenty of players who aren’t’ hitting well. Managers can’t play guys they don’t have.

      • JB

        It’s called sarcasm. Lighten up Eugene.

  9. JB

    Why don’t they put Gibaut on the 60? He probably won’t be back this month anyways. He has been on the IL for what 33 days?

    • MBS

      Solid idea JB, that’s better than what I was thinking. It maintains the depth that we have by kicking the can down the road a bit. Time often clarifies things, so hopefully Krall uses this approach.

  10. Chad A Donnell

    Mike Ford is saying hey I am killing it and yet you have three or four guys that are below .200. Take it or leave it. I hope they bring him in. CES may be the one to go down for a while to get his hand right and his confidence back.

  11. RedsGettingBetter

    Ashcraft is struggling because a lack of control and a few squeezed pitches by the ump. High count of pitches thru 3 innings… Reds need score more runs! Musgrove has an 6.94 ERA before the game…

  12. Melvin

    “Jon Heyman of MLB Network is reporting that with the opt out, the Reds now have a couple of days to decide whether to add him to the 26-man big league roster, or to grant him his release.”

    Our offense if fine. We don’t need someone like that. 😉

    “.325/.412/.590 with four doubles, six home runs, two steals, 12 walks, and 18 strikeouts in 97 plate appearances”

  13. Melvin

    “Martini’s hitting .156/.174/.234 with one walk and 20 strikeouts. Simply swapping his bat out for Ford’s while keeping the defense and pinch running abilities for Thompson could make sense, too.”

    That makes the most sense in my view.

  14. Jason T.

    Bring him up. I’ve been wanting this for awhile. He has some pop and the Reds need someone who can ignite that lineup. Either Thompson or Martini should go.