It was easy to wonder if Mike Ford had ever lost hope prior to his first big league call-up on April 16, 2019.
The first baseman had spent seven years and 572 games in the Yankees’ minor league system before finally getting a major league promotion. Ford had hit well on the farm, enough for the Mariners to use a Rule 5 pick on him in 2017. But alas, the New Jersey native was returned to New York, where he made his debut two years later.
Ford was asked that day if he had ever considered that his debut might not come. To which he replied, “You just keep the faith and stay patient and good things happen. You have to take the positives out of each day."
Good things did indeed happen for Ford that year. He was demoted and promoted a few more times before going on a tear over the final two months of the season. Ford hit just one home run over his first 11 MLB games, but the pop he had demonstrated as an unheralded prospect translated once the calendar flipped to August. Ford mashed 11 dingers over the final two months of the season, giving the Yankees some hope that he could be an impact, left-handed bat moving froward, if only in a limited role.
Those hopes—as well as the Yankees’ own patience—proved unfruitful, however.
Ford has hardly been productive since 2019, which is why the team designated him for assignment on Saturday. Ford was traded to the rival Rays on Thursday. New York received $100,000 and a player to be named later, per The Associated Press.
Ford, 29, will report to the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate in Durham after nearly a decade of knowing nothing but the Yankees organization. His struggles this year and last—he’s tallied just five home runs and a .134/.250/.276 slash line in 51 games—made him expendable despite the Bombers’ lack of lefty power.
Tampa Bay transferred Tyler Glasnow to the 60-day injured list to clear a 40-man roster spot for Ford.
It’s unclear what kind of opportunity Ford will get with the Rays. His exit velocity is still above-average despite his poor stats, and he also has two options remaining. While he didn’t make the most of the at-bats he saw in the Bronx, his big-league career is still a collection of small sample sizes that have not been helped by inconsistent playing time. Factoring in Ford’s minor league success, the tiny price it took to get him, and Ji-Man Choi’s multiple I.L. stints this year, and it’s easy to see why the Rays were interested.
The Yankees, meanwhile, have been taking a look at Chris Gittens, another first baseman who had to spend years in the minors before getting called up. Gittens hit his first home run on Tuesday, but that’s his only hit in 17 at-bats. The Yankees are hoping Luke Voit (oblique) returns from a rehab stint soon, though.
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