Do you enjoy being confused? If so, you’ve got to be loving the last week of the Mike Ford and Cincinnati Reds timeline. Ford, who was in Triple-A Louisville, opted out of his contract with the club as he was on a minor league deal at the time and had an opt-out date. That put the Reds on the clock, so to speak, to decide whether to grant him his release or to add him to their big league roster. They ultimately decided to give him his release. Well, fast forward a couple of days and the Reds have now signed him to a big league deal according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

Three days ago, Mike Ford wasn’t good enough to call up to the big leagues as they hung on to Nick Martini and Bubba Thompson at the end of their bench. Yesterday the Reds optioned both Martini and Thompson to the minor leagues and called up Conner Capel from Triple-A, who required a 40-man roster spot. Whenever the Ford deal become official, we will have to be called up because he’s out of options, and will require a roster move on both the 26-man and the 40-man.

The move has been officially announced, along with the placement of Christian Encarnacion-Strand on the injured list with a fracture in his wrist and the moving of Brandon Williamson to the 60-day injured list to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. Ford will be joining the Reds big league club. He crushed the ball in Triple-A during April with Louisville. In his 22 games with the Bats he hit .325/.412/.590 with 12 walks, 10 extra-base hits, and 18 strikeouts in 97 plate appearances. Despite being a left-handed hitter, he terrorized left-handed pitching while in the minors this season – hitting .370/.485/.778 against them in 33 trips to the plate. He was solid against right-handed pitchers, hitting .266/.333/.438 against them.

The Reds offense has been in a slump like they haven’t seen in over 50 years. Matt Wilkes points out that the Reds OPS of .490 in the last 11 games is the lowest in an 11-game span since 1971 by the club. Perhaps Ford, who hasn’t played in a game in May, can help get things moving in the right direction.

39 Responses

  1. AllTheHype

    Wonder if it had something to do with his ML guarantee if they call him up under the original contract, versus allow him to test the waters and then sign him after a few days as a free agent? I mean, I hope not they weren’t risking losing him to save a few bucks that way. But the FO’s decisions have been quite odd lately, to say the least.

    Categorize this one with the Moll demotion as head scratching.

    • jmb

      Ford tested the market and ended up back with the Reds after CES’s injury which will keep him on the shelf 4-6 weeks. So Ford will play first. But they’ve got to do something with DH or second! India can be one or the other, but Espinal isn’t doing it. And two guys who seem to have their own fan clubs on this site, Benson and Maile, aren’t hitting enough to be DH.


    Someone give the Reds a compass quick, lol. Maybe something else is in the works? Welcome back, Mike Ford! For what the 3rd time. Go Reds

  3. Moon

    Reds definitely went around the corner on this one but ultimately I think they got it right. Ford deserves a shot especially given how horrific the Reds offense has been

  4. Jason T.

    Shake up the roster hitting wise because we are just abysmal at hitting. And this just isn’t a few days now, it’s been weeks now.
    I’m good with trying some fresh bats and sending down Benson and CES. As much as I love the upside of CES he needs to work on his swing at AAA. Let’s DFA Martini. Give Capel a few starts since he’s up too.

    • Oldtimer

      Martini was sent to Louisville. DFA him does not open spot on 26 man roster for Ford.

      • AllTheHype

        Sending CES down does, as he suggested.

      • Jason T.

        Thanks. I missed his transaction.

    • greenmtred

      CES has a wrist fracture. I assume that the Ford signing is related to that and that CES’s futility may be, too.

  5. JB

    Someday the Cincinnati Reds will be a college course on how not to run a business.

    • Roger Garrett

      Now that would be funny if it weren’t true.Who is running this organization?Does anybody know? Good grief and we worry about winning and losing while the people in charge are sound asleep.Lord there is just so much to fix with this ownership even before they put a team on the field.My grandson who is now 13 could do no worse.Just a laughing stock group.Memo from all the other teams would go like this.Dear Bob i wouldn’t change a thing at all because your people are doing all the right things so just keep doing it.Doug I admire you for reporting this on Ford.I wouldn’t have been able to without laughing or crying or both.

      • Daniel

        Great move by the reds he will do good with the Reds

    • jmb

      Yeah, they don’t trade for Cease and sign Montas instead. True, I didn’t want to see them trade Phillips and Petty in a deal for Cease, but now such a deal sounds like a steal. Just signing Ford from the start instead of Candelario would have been better too.

  6. LDS

    I’m as confused as everyone else. The corresponding moves will be more telling. Candelario and CES are both having big issues. Can Ford be worse? Probably. But if he comes close to matching his Seattle performance from last year, he’d be a step up. Solving the 26 is likely easy, send CES down. The 40 would be tougher. Bubba Thompson seems like the obvious choice though obvious isn’t how one handicaps the Reds. Wilson is another good DFA candidate, 36+ and ineffective. I’d like to see a Candelario trade but that is unlikely. Who’d take him and his salary? I saw an article off Bleacher Report, citing the Reds as a landing spot for Jazz Chisholm, proposing Lowder and Floyd. Fortunately, most such articles have zero credibility. Nonetheless, I’m not sure that Lowder isn’t too much to give up given the sorry state of Reds pitching. Chisholm would be a nice cheap add for a couple of years and he is young.

      • LDS

        If I were GM, things would be different, no doubt. I’d start by expecting results and firing people that didn’t deliver. And being liked by one’s staff is not the most important thing for a manager – contrary to what many here and David Bell seem to think. In fact, research shows it is negatively correlated with results.

    • Optimist

      The 40-man spot is easy to open, and the 26-man may well be as well. Consider the Benson activity last season – very easy to do so again with him or CES. Believe they both have options, and it would only be a short time – few weeks, a bit more than a month. Or, CES goes on the IL.

      Also may be time to call up Soto and release Espinal. No reason to not shake things up.

      If scouting says Dunn/Hinds Hurtubise are finally getting it together, one of them becomes available about when Marte returns.

      Keep churning the roster for 6-8 weeks and see where they are as the deadline approaches.

      Still very early.

      • jmb

        The whole Marte caper has cost the Reds dearly so far. I like his numbers but how long can this team flounder on? I’d trade him to the Pads for Merrill and put EDLC at third where he played well last season. His 7 errors already are simply almost enough for an entire season!

    • David

      Even though Martini was sent down, he is still on the 40 man roster.
      As of this minute, Mike Ford IS on the 40 man roster.
      CES is on the 10 day IL (his hand?) so there is also a spot on the 26 man roster for Mike Ford.
      Yes, I would DFA Justin Wilson. Well, bye. And bring back Sam Moll.

      I would not have a problem outrighting Martini off the 40 man, should another spot be needed (Dunn?). If somebody claims him, well, bye.
      Ditto Bubba Thompson.
      I would not trade Rhett Lowder (as part of a package) for a highly regarded ML player, but just about any other pitcher in the Reds farm system would be ok with me.
      Lowder, IMHO, should probably be up to AA, if not now, then in a few weeks (June 1st?). He has to build up arm strength, but he is, again, IMHO, closest to having ML Stuff and control than the rest of the Reds minor pitchers. Maybe next Spring he gets a legitimate shot at making the staff, as likely Frank Montas will be gone by then.

      • Jason T.

        I watched Lowder pitch in Dayton. Lights out!
        No way I move him. He’s got so much potential and should ascend quickly through the minors.

      • Old Big Ed

        Neither would I, Jason. I saw him in Arizona against the Rangers’ top prospects, and he made them look silly. They can all get injured, but he’s very good.

      • jmb

        Lowder isn’t going anywhere, but Petty and Phillips might be.

    • Old Big Ed

      The “sorry state of Reds pitching”?

      The starting pitching has not been bad at all. Playing in hitters’ park, the Reds starters are 11th in ERA, 7th in SO/9, and 12th in WHIP and in BB/9. They do tend to throw more pitches/inning than they should, but all other than Montas are 24-26 years old. There isn’t really much to complain about the rotation. The bullpen …

      The Reds’ problem is on offense, where 3 of the regulars — Friedl, Marte and McLain — have played a collective 1 game, and where 3 others — Candelario, CES and Benson — have simply stunk. When 6 of a team’s 10 regular position players produce 0.0, ala Senator John Blutarsky, the team is in trouble, even if the team is the ’27 Yankees or the 1971 Reds.

      Chisholm has some appeal, but his OPS+ from 2021 to now is 106; Candelario’s is 107. Chisholm was very good in 2022, but just better than league average since. He is much faster than Candelario — not that we have ever seen Candelario run the bases. They also don’t really need another LH hitter.

      I like the idea of an Alex Bregman rental. The Astros probably aren’t ready to wave the white flag yet, but that team is past its prime, and management may just want to get as much of the remaining $22 million off the books as it can. The Reds aren’t going to pay all of that, but the trade wouldn’t cost much in prospects, either. Meanwhile, Bregman needs to turn it on for his contract year.

      I would also inquire about Eloy Jimenez of the White Sox, who needs a change of scenery and is also in his walk year. Gives them a RH thumper with some motivation.

      And if Rece Hinds keeps it up for another couple of weeks in Louisville like he has for the last week, I’d consider promoting him at the expense of the now hapless Will Benson.

      • LDS

        OBE, I was referring to the entire organization, not the ML club.

      • Old Big Ed

        OK, but even then, they’ve brought up 4 starters now aged 24-26 over the past 3 years, plus they have Lowder, whom I would recommend you see if you get the chance.

        Petty (finally) pitched well in Chattanooga today, as did Aquiar yesterday. Zach Maxwell is as good a reliever prospect as the Reds have had in years. He hasn’t been scored on yet this season and is averaging 2 K/inning. It’s not like the system is now barren.

        I agree that Lucas Sims and Justin Wilson are Arsonist of the Year candidates.

  7. Pete

    CES is out with an injury as many suspected….

  8. Coach

    You need a speedster to hit in front of Elly. A guy who can get 40-50 SBs per year. That way Elly sees more fastballs, or the opposition lets the guy steal. Make them pick their poison. And, behind a Elly a very low strikeout guy, hit behind the runner , move the runner along type. We are not real far away from figuring this out. But, gotta get a few finishing pieces before Elly bolts for the Dodgers.

  9. Indy Red Man

    This team reminds me of the Indy Colts. Blew out the Bills behind Taylors 5 tds a few years ago when they had Wentz. All the talking heads pegged them as a young team on the rise and Chris Ballard as a young star GM. None of that happened and now they suck…lol. I still like the Reds young core though. Way too early to blow it up just based on this dumpster fire of a season. They’ll be buried by Fathers Day

  10. Redsvol

    Its been clear for a couple weeks the offense stinks. Benson, Martini, Fairchild, CES, Espinal, and Candelario have all been pitiful the last few weeks.

    It was time for a shake-up. We can’t afford to get too far behind in the division because there is just too much competition for the wild card spots. Welcome in Mike Ford, TJ Friedl, and Connor Capel.

    I wouldn’t stop here. As soon as Hurtibese is healthy, I would bring him up, DFA Fairchild, and option Benson to AAA to work on things. I would also option Espinal (he has 2 left) and bring up Livan Soto. He has options and has been very good in Louisville. We need more players who will take a walk and be content with a single. They are all back in this mode where they feel the need to hit it over the fence every at-bat.

    Time to churn and burn like past GM Wayne Krivsky used to do. We can’t be patient with players who clearly aren’t going to be here long-term.

    Now, we need Steer, Fraley, India, Stephenson, and Candelario to all start hitting better. Time is up with the excuses. Rest of the league has dealt with the same issues.

    Pitching has been good. Keep it up!

    • Indy Red Man

      They aren’t going to find anyone half as talented as Benson? Move him down in the order fine, but sending him down? Best eye on the team last year so I’m not ready to give up. I’d move Steer to 2B vs righties and get rid of Espinal’s weak bat.

      • Old Big Ed

        Benson is striking out 42% of his PAs. There’s a reason that the Indians gave up on him. Rece Hinds has way more upside; better arm and better defender, just as fast, and more power.

  11. Mark A Verticchio

    We all just have to admit this year has turned into a disaster. Now almost half the guys we thought would play have been hurt at one time or another. My bet is we don’t see Strand until at least July.

  12. JB

    Put the names in a hat and draw the batting order. Lighten the mood and take some pressure off of them all. They are only 5 out so change up some stuff and maybe have a little fun. Why Bubba is on the 40 is incredible. I just have no answer for that. If nobody wanted Ford then why would the front office think any sane team would want Bubba.

  13. RedBB

    Day late and a dollar short. I love how the Reds continuously make moves that are flat out obvious to the average fan.

  14. MK

    Don’t get the head scratching going on. If CES isn’t injured Ford would be fishing with his dad today. I think the professional talent evaluators (none of whom are posting here) still believe Martini has a bigger future with the organization than Ford who happens to be hotter right now than the back of his baseball card reports. Like Gibaut, the 60-day DL doesn’t change things for Williamson.

  15. jmb

    Soto should be called up to play second.