Earlier this week Mike Ford used the opt-out clause in his contract. That gave the Reds several days to make the decision on whether or not to call him up to this big leagues or to give him his outright release. Jon Heyman of MLB Network is reporting that the Reds are choosing to release him rather than call him up. Update: The Reds made it official and have granted Ford his release.

Since the start of April, Mike Ford hit .325/.412/.590 with four doubles, six home runs, two steals, 12 walks, and 18 strikeouts in 97 plate appearances. That’s pretty good. He’s also coming off of a year in Seattle where he had a 121 OPS+ and hit 16 home runs in about half of a season’s worth of playing time.

The Cincinnati Reds offense has been struggling of late. Last night they had two hits and both of them belonged to Elly De La Cruz, who seems to be the only player on the club who has been hitting for the last few weeks.

Nick Martini, who homered twice on Opening Day, got out to a quick start in the three games in March. Since the calendar flipped over to April he’s hit .147/.164/.221 with one walk and 21 strikeouts.

Bubba Thompson has hit so poorly that he’s made Martini’s line look good. Thompson, who has rarely been asked to hit, is 2-18 this season with a double, no walks, and 11 strikeouts while posting a .278 OPS. Unlike Martini, Thompson brings defensive and baserunning abilities to the table as a bench player.

The Reds choosing to release Mike Ford while keeping both of those players on the big league roster leaves one scratching their head a bit. While Mike Ford can’t play the outfield and is strictly a first base/designated hitter type, the team has enough outfield depth that it wouldn’t likely matter if you only used Ford as a pinch hitter or designated hitter. And the team certainly could have used the offensive boost that he almost assuredly would have provided over either Martini or Thompson at this point.

74 Responses

  1. Broseph

    If you just remove all reason and expectations from this organization, you end up with better overall mental health.

    • LDS

      Paraphrasing Melvin Udall? Extending your open, this is “as good as it gets”.

  2. RedBB

    Bleh….Krall. Should have released Martini and brought him up. I’d release Bubba too….

    • LarkinPhillips

      If I have read correctly, you don’t have to release Martini, he has options left. That was an easy flip and kept organizational depth (minor as it may be). It seems to me Ford did everything he could to get a shot and still didn’t. MLB sure is a tough business sometimes.

      • Doug Gray

        Right. The Reds need to clear a 40-man spot, so some sort of move would need to be made for that, but Martini and Thompson both have options that could be used if the team wanted to go that route.

  3. Jim Walker

    Ford will be an interesting situation to follow. Seems to me his agent must think he has a better deal waiting elsewhere than what the Reds were offering.

    • Daniel

      Ford seems to be a good hitter and I think he should be up in the MLB but I only seen him play with the Yankees and that short time with the Braves.

  4. Optimist

    This is baffling – is the transaction complete, or is there still a period in which he may be traded? I believe the former, since this is not a waiver situation, correct? It’s an outright release, so Ford will sign anew immediately, and surely with someone – no surprise if he returns to Seattle, among others looking.

    Don’t know that he would have made much difference (we are talking about the 26th man on the roster), but he could have filled an acute need for a short time, and that’s often enough to make a game or two difference.

    Still, baffling.

    • Jim Walker

      Agree it is baffling. It must be about money. My understanding of the CBA is that unless he signs a split (MLB/MiLB) money contract, as soon as he spends a day on the 26 man roster, he is guaranteed the entire MLB amount of the contract.

      This is purely speculative. However, with the Reds expecting Friedl back in the short run and Marte presumably NLT the All Star break, they may have been unwilling to pay much above the MLB minimum for MLB time unless he would accept a split deal.

      • wkuchad

        Jim, this was my thinking exactly. Nothing else really makes sense.

      • Optimist

        That makes sense, but the amount is still negligible even for a “small market club”. He’s more limited, but compare and contrast with Espinal.

        Almost tempted to go the analytics and consider the value of a “win” and the relative costs of the players contributing to that win – adding whatever Ford’s contract would cost and averaging it with the various MLB minimums they’re paying the rest of the bench, it’s metaphorical pennies, probably literally thousands. Compare that to the $Millions for FA or draft picks.

        Maybe there’s a sign and trade coming? Just baffling.

      • doofus

        BC having one of his cheap moments?

      • Melvin

        ” It must be about money”

        It can’t be THAT much money. Dedicated to winning this organization is not.

  5. Jason T.

    That’s a head scratcher. Let’s see, give a guy in Ford a shot who had a terrific spring training and was heating up in AAA or stick with guys like Martini and Thompson who have done very little. Hell the whole team minus Elly and maybe early Steer have hit for much at all. What do we do? Release Ford. Stupid.
    Extremely disappointing as a fan of the Reds.

  6. GreatRedLegsFan

    Definitely an odd move, should be a good reason to do not have had Ford replacing any of Martini, Thompson or even CES in the active roster. Talking about moves, thumbs up for the Padres for such an striking trade, I wish the Reds would be willing to approach other teams in search for a right hitting, power bat. Angels’ Taylor Ward pops up as a good target.

  7. MBS

    How much can they really like Martini? He’s fine I guess if you want a bad defender who can’t hit at the major league level.

    Fords no prize, but he seems to jack HR’s at a high rate.

  8. Mauired

    Jim Day said last night (speculatively not officially) that Friedl could be back Tuesday. So I guess Reds didn’t want to make the move when they already could be promoting someone in two games.

    • Optimist

      That a small piece to add to the puzzle, but it also seems like they’re rushing Friedl. Easy for me to say thousands of miles away and without an MD, but no reason to panic. Also think it would be useful to move Martini and Bubba, and add Ford/Capel/anyone? just to mix things up. Still sad Dunn/Hinds/Hurtubise missed this chance – the need and timing were obvious back in early spring.

    • Jim Walker

      @Mauired>> Not shooting the messenger here (either JD or yourself) but really? The guy goes down on March 17 before the regulars are playing anything resembling full games and now they are going to bring him back to play in the OF on a week or less of rehab??? I seem to recall no less than Joey Votto saying that one of the largest hurdles to clear in rehab was just standing and playing in the field for 9 innings on back to back to back days.

      • MK

        Jim, I mentioned yesterday I was surprised Friedl played eight innings of defense his first rehab game out of the shoot. Think he is on the fast track.

      • Doc

        It was Friedl’s upper extremity that was broken, not his lower extremity, and only the wrist, meaning the shoulder was fine. A broken arm does not keep one from doing a lot of conditioning. It’s not like he was an invalid for six weeks, for heaven sake. Heck, I broke my right forearm at 15, went to the Boy Scout National Jamboree in 1964 and competed in ALL the patrol events with a cast on, then came home, was re-xrayed four weeks after the break and released to unrestricted activity. So I’m not surprised Friedl is close to ready.

        Joey Votto was off for the better part of a year, not six weeks, and he was severely restricted in what he could do with an operated, rebuilt, and immobilized shoulder. There is no comparison from what Votto was recovering versus from what Friedl was recovering, therefore Votto’s statement is not applicable to Friedl.

        The question is, how long will it take for Friedl to hit MLB pitching again. He is hitting AAA hard. He’s not got anything to prove there, or at least that was the argument made ad infinitum for just about any other Red who was brought up, injured or not, when they didn’t hit at the big league level after shining in AAA.

      • Mauired

        He also mentioned that (playing back to back) being a factor. Maybe they will DH in part time. They obviously need his bat in the lineup. It’s a pretty big upgrade going from Martini/Espinal to Friedl

      • Jim Walker

        @Doc>>> But Friedl had not played in a competitive professional game since last October. No amount of sideline conditioning or simulation in BP can prepare a guy for the initial breaks and ending brakes like what Fairchild had to do on that circus catch in San Diego. In CF Friedl may be called upon to run routes like that several times in a game, perhaps even multiple times in an inning. This is aside from the same rapid acceleration and stopping on the bases.

        And yes, MLB will provide a step up in speed of play from even AAA. I just question whether 4-5 games after a 7 month layoff are going to get a guy anything near into game condition.

      • doofus

        Coming back from a wrist injury and playing mlb, where I imagine there is a certain amount of torque put on the injured area, has got nothing on competing in all the patrol events at a Boy Scout national jamboree while also recovering from an injury.

    • Melvin

      ” So I guess Reds didn’t want to make the move when they already could be promoting someone in two games”

      Two games are what kept us of out of the playoffs last year. Urgency to win????? It’s not like they couldn’t have replaced Martini AND Thompson while finding another 40 man spot. This offense is pathetic at the moment. It badly needs whatever help it can get.

  9. MK

    Lets see Thompson can run, bat right-handed, play all three outfield positions none of which Ford could do.

    Martini can play 1st base, right and left field and has shown the ability to hit big league pitching, much tougher than Spring Training and AAA pitching.

    If Thompson or Martini are released the Reds are on the hook for their whole year’s contract while Ford is off the payroll today.

    Within a week a spot is going to be necessary for Friedl, one of those guys will probably go then.

    • DaveCT

      Ford is also very slow, a base clogger. To use as a pinch hitter almost requires a pinch runner if he gets on.

  10. Rob

    Don’t know how many options CES has left, but I might have brought up Ford and put him at first base, and sent CES down to work on his hitting. CES — a major disappointment thus far.

    On another note, those Friday night City Connects don’t look nearly as cool and stylish when they’re worn by the collection of .190-and-below hitters in last night’s lineup.

  11. Laredo Slider

    Ford hits too well to play for the Reds.

  12. Redgoggles

    Would Ford > Martini/Thompson for the past week? I think there is an argument to support that. I think the decision is who is more valuable as the 25th/26th roster spot over the course of the season…….because we’ve seen the results if we have to rely on them consistently. (I doubt Ford would move the meter much if he was counted on more than PH/spot starting.) I think Thompson’s speed and Martini’s clubhouse presence + multiple position flexibility make them higher regarded by FO over the 162. I would agree on the former, not convinced of the latter. But if we had Freidl/McClain/Marte, we wouldn’t be talking about any of them. The much bigger issue is getting/staying healthy and India/Candy/CES/Benson/Stephenson hitting like they are capable of.

  13. RedsMonk65

    Just completely … baffling. Incomprehensible. Reds need players who can hit the ball badly right now, especially against lefthanders. Ford seemed to fit the bill. With all the injuries, illnesses, slumps, etc., some type of move to shake things up a little bit is way overdue. I guess the team would rather play two or three players short each night (like they have for much of the past week) and rely on the likes of Maile and Thompson as PHs. Baffling.

    • RedsMonk65

      Agreed (even if you are a Steelers fan ;). Reds have plenty of positional flexibility. What they don’t have enough of right now are players who can hit the ball with any kind of regularity.

      • RedsMonk65

        That was a winking emoji by the way…. 😉

      • Steelerfan

        Got the wink. My fandom is a mess. Raised in Dayton, went to school in Michigan (knew Steve Mancuso, one of the OGs here when he was the debate coach there) and ended up in Cleveland. My sports pronouns go Reds/Steelers/Wolverines/Red Wings/Cavs, so I hated pretty much wherever I go. Also confused the heck out of my kids while they were growing up.

    • Hanawi

      Positional flexibility seems to be a key factor in how the Reds manage the roster, as well as how Bell tinkers with the lineup. I wouldn’t discount this as the primary reason he isn’t coming to the MLB club.

      • LDS

        And a good example of why Bell shouldn’t have any say in roster construction, though he claimed at one point that he did. He was over hyped from the outset. Time to move on.

      • LDS

        This isn’t the whole problem but it’s a big chunk of the problemhttps://www.cincinnati.com/story/sports/mlb/reds/2018/12/08/reds-xtra-new-manager-david-bell-right-home-cincinnati/2250454002/

  14. Mauired

    Taylor Trammel former Reds top prospect designated (again). Personally I think he could be an upgrade over Martini. Similar 4A player though. Smashes AAA pitching but not so much in very limited big league opportunities. But at least he’s younger and more athletic than Martini. Guess it’s a moot point if Friedl takes Martini’s spot in a couple days though.

    • greenmtred

      Nothing will surprise me, but I would think that Thompson would be the one to go when Friedl rejoins the team. Friedl is not as fast as Bubba, but he’s plenty fast, and Bubba shows no signs that he has a clue about hitting. Martini has, within living memory, hit some home runs and looks like a reasonable facsimile of a hitter.

      • Mauired

        I don’t know. Not that Bubba offers much but at least some great late inning pinch running and defense is more than a DH that can’t hit.

  15. Jason Franklin

    Fix Bubba Thompson by replacing him with Blake Dunn. You still have your speed, but now gain someone with pop and more potential growth. I know its against the rules (so it seems) to bring up a player to just be the 24th/25th guy on the team, but Bell could find him playing time as he loves to platoon. Plus he is a righthanded bat which would be valuable.

    • Jason Franklin

      Heck, he could “fix” Martini, too.

    • Hanawi

      He can take Fairchild’s at bats for that matter. None of Martini, Thompson, or Fairchild would be missed at this point.

      • Jason Franklin

        I guess the one arguement for keeping Fairchild around is that he has enough speed to be the guy off the bench to pinch-run and he plays pretty legit defense this year in center field. I believe his runs saves (albeit a small sample size) has bene impressived. So I would keep SF and call up Dunn. They then could have kept Ford and brought him up too after Thompson and Martinin could have been cut.

    • Mauired

      Dunn is a good prospect that needs to play in AAA not sit on the bench as the 5th outfielder. He also has not yet hit in AAA so I don’t know why it makes sense to promote him and expect him to hit ML pitching.

      • Optimist

        Agreed that Dunn needs 250+ PAs in AAA, but it’s really just a slow start he’s had – he was dinged up a bit, but the speed and power are still there, and a few good games would bump his OBP and Avg. back to his career MiLB levels. Unlike the prior injuries (which cost him extended time) this one seems over and done with. Hurtubise also starting rehab now, but don’t expect either before July. Had hoped one or the other would be knocking on the door now, or buy June 1st, but better to wait than rush it.

        Also expected Hinds later this season, but he seems further behind, needs more AAA time, and benefits from being several years younger.

  16. Mauired

    Mlbtradrumors reported it at 8am. Mark Sheldon is pretty slow to report anything if you want up to date information. He’s not a very good writer either.

    • Jim Walker

      It was weird that @Reds retweeted Sheldon versus just announcing it themselves. Rosencrans and Wittenmyer tweeted the news almost simultaneously with Sheldon. This may be an indication stuff was not as officially nailed down as some thought it was earlier in the day.

  17. Old-school

    Considering the roster…. I like the lineup tonight

    See if top 6 do their jobs and plate some runs – india, elly,steer, stephenson, CES, candy and if SF can do something to turn the lineup over

    Those 7 guys need to collectively hit against lefties to produce runs.

  18. Jon

    The Brewers lost Derek Johnson and didn’t miss a beat. They traded away Burnes and Hader. They lost Woodruff to injury if memory serves me correctly. Yet they are still dominating in the NL Central. Meanwhile Krall sticks with this roster of unproven guys, sophomore slumpers, and never-will-be hitters.

    • Dirty447

      True story, Jon. I’m still waiting on Derek Johnson to deliver on all the hype he brought with him to Cincy. Also, while there is a lot of potential on this team, it’s just that, potential. Krall and the Castelini’s are living in a fool’s paradise believing they can win a division with nothing more than unproven 2nd year players and guys they picked up from the scrap heap in the off-season. It’s hard for a fan to get his hopes up when signing Jeimer Candelario is considered worthy of a press conference…

  19. Matt McWax

    Letting Ford go is maybe partially a statement of confidence in CES.

    • Jim Walker

      We may find out about confidence in CES when Friedl is back and the Reds have to choose between sitting/ DHing either Benson or Fraley vs RHP versus moving Steer off of LF (to 1B or DH).

  20. Mark A Verticchio

    One thing very noticeable this year is the unusual number of left handed pitchers the Reds have seen, many more than most years I can remember.

  21. Reddawg2012

    Imagine being terrible at your job, failing almost every time you are asked to do something, and still getting to keep that job. Which is paying you $740,000/year. That’s quite a gig!

    • greenmtred

      But with all of that, you’re probably one of the 1000 best in the world at what you do.

  22. 50thyearRedsfan

    Why did they ever sign Mike Ford in the first place if they never wanted him to play? He earned a spot in spring training but was passed over and those who took his spot are terrible hitters. So Mike Ford agrees to go to AAA, starts hitting well earning a promotion and we just release him??? Why did we spend time and money on him if no matter how well he played he wasn’t going to get a chance?

    • Harry Stoner

      In situations like this I comfort myself by repeating the RLN mantra:
      “Krall knows things!”

    • Mauired

      Not defending the move but maybe they just signed him as depth in case someone like CES or Martini was injured.

      Also it’s possible that Ford doesn’t not get a major league deal and he signs a 3rd minor league deal with the Reds.

    • Jason T.

      Excellent question!
      I was of the understanding that you make moves to improve your ball club. To have depth to step up not just in case of injury but also if performance merits it. There’s no way in hell you can convince me that he wouldn’t have helped. I also don’t care that his stats were spring training and AAA as someone else mentioned, should have given him a chance. Period.

    • DaveCT

      I was completely perplexed with the signing, especially given the Mariners did not want him back. And this was a team where Ford had his best ML year. At the time, I was thinking this was a courtesy signing, where Ford could get showcased in AZ. He just isn’t very good. He’s like Dan Vogelbach with arms.

      • Jason T.

        Well right now our hitting isn’t very good. I’m open to options cause things aren’t getting better currently. Apparently the Reds want to hold tight. Not a fan of that.

  23. JB

    Just another day in the world of the Cincinnati Reds. No sense in moving the chairs around on the Titanic, it’s going to sink anyways.

  24. WVRedsFan

    Yet another head scratcher from the Reds front office. I get a feeling this season is about to go off the rails. And if it does, heads need to roll. The signing of Candelario has turned out to be a huge mistake when it was apparent they needed a proven bat. Now we let Mike Ford go when we clearly have a need for his bat. It would have been easy to make this happen. Just unbelievable.

  25. Dave

    I’d prefer Ford over Bubba. But to swim a little against the tide here, Ford is about to turn 32. He was outstanding as a rookie in 1919 and very good in a limited role last season. But every year in between was absolute garbage. It’s probably not a big loss.

  26. Jason Linden

    I think this is meaningless. Thompson is gonna be gone in a couple of days when Friedl gets back. And then you’re just looking at a month of part time play for Martini who is basically the same player as Ford. Just a giant shrug from me.

    • Tom Diesman

      Exactly. A bunch of people making mountains out of mole hills.

  27. Chad Donnell

    One of the worst decisions I have seen this team make…….this week