Spring training star opts out of contract, forces Reds to make tough roster decision

It's now or never, Nick Krall.
Cincinnati Reds slugger Mike Ford
Cincinnati Reds slugger Mike Ford / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Reds front office has a decision to make. According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, Mike Ford has opted out of his minor-league contract with the Reds. Cincinnati now has a couple of days to decided whether to add Ford to the active roster or release him.

Most Reds fans will remember that Ford nearly made the Opening Day roster after showing off his unmitigated power during spring training. Ford appeared in 10 Cactus League games for the Reds and hit .455/.486/.727 with three home runs and eight RBI.

Ford then re-signed a new deal and agreed to join the Reds' Triple-A affiliate down in Louisville. With the Louisville Bats, Ford has posted a .297/.381/539 slash line with six home runs in 24 games. While it seems like an easy decision to select Ford's contract, the Reds don't have a lot of room on the 40-man roster.

Mike Ford opts out of contract, forces Reds to make tough roster decision

The Reds have endured plenty of injuries and illnesses at the outset of the 2024 season, and could certainly use Ford's bat in the lineup. However, it's not the active roster, but the 40-man that's a bit crowded at the moment. That said, there are some players who could be sent packing.

Seeing how much Nick Martini has struggled, the Reds could decide to option the veteran to the minors, but that only solves one piece of the puzzle. In order to add Ford to the roster, a corresponding move must be made. That means a player must be released or placed on the 60-day IL.

With Alex Young, Matt McLain, and Tejay Antone already on the 60-day IL, it would seem that Cincinnati has exhausted all those options. The Reds could decide to move TJ Friedl to the 60-day IL, but with the centerfielder so close to returning, it's unlikely the team would force him to miss more time than is necessary.

The most obvious candidates to lose their spots on the Reds 40-man roster would be their two newest additions. Peyton Budick and Livan Soto were recently plucked off waivers, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Cincinnati DFA one of those players, option Martini to the minors, and then select Ford's contract from Triple-A.

But, if the Reds are going to do something, the clock is ticking. With so many injuries this season, the Reds would be foolish to let Ford get away without allowing him the opportunity to showcase his skills in the big leagues.

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