Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo may get excited come baseball trading deadline time (regardless of whether he is buying or selling), though he also is tickled come DFA season. If there is a veteran who met his demise with another team, Rizzo is ready to pounce. If there is a controllable player who was pink slipped, Rizzo will sniff him out.
Usually the players Rizzo rescues from the scrap heap are pitchers, though this time of year he has a soft spot in his heart for position players. On August 6th, of 2019, Asdrubal Cabrera was signed after being released by the Texas Rangers. On August 29th, of 2020 (of a shortened season), Brock Holt was scooped up after being released by the Milwaukee Brewers. Now, we can add August 23rd, 2021, to the list, as Mike Ford has been claimed off waivers, after being kicked to the curb by the Tampa Bay Rays.
While Cabrera was stellar after joining the Nats, in helping them win a World Series, and Holt held his own while providing some exciting moments in DC, there is a reason Ford will be joining his third franchise in just over two months after being designated by the first two.
Rizzo’s latest depth piece is a reach for a Nationals team who is rebuilding.
There was a warm body out there who could play first base, so Rizzo brought him in to see if he actually could. Taking a flyer in a buy-low scenario, with hopes of finding a winning lottery ticket, is what the Nationals are doing here. There are some in the industry who believe Ryan Zimmerman won’t be back next year. I mean, why would he want to toil around the diamond playing part-time on a rebuilding team?
Josh Bell is the only other first baseman on the 40-man roster. The Nationals didn’t think enough of Jake Noll to carry him on the 40-man, DFAing him before the season started. The first base depth at Triple-A Rochester behind Noll is a smorgasbord of Major League has beens.
Ford can be controlled through the 2025 season, but he won’t be, at least not in Washington. After showing some pop as a rookie in 2019 with the New York Yankees, he’s struggled to hit since. A .199 career batting average in why he’s been in the minors a lot lately and a .220 batting average this year between the Yankees/Rays AAA affiliates is why he isn’t headed back to the bigs anytime soon.
Sure, the Nationals will give him a look, and why not? They are in a rebuild of their own right now. Organizational depth during a time of need, great. Mike Ford won’t be around when the games count again in Washington, however.