Yankees had better stay away from old friend as Anthony Rizzo backup plan

A familiar smile and nod of disbelief after a strikeout. Who can relate?
Cincinnati Reds v Los Angeles Dodgers
Cincinnati Reds v Los Angeles Dodgers / Harry How/GettyImages

Good news: the Yankees have a prime opportunity to welcome an old friend back into the fold as a much-needed backup option for Anthony Rizzo!

Bad news: this particular old friend is someone whose number they should've lost in the divorce.

Mike Ford, who redeemed himself in Seattle in 2023 and was a lefty-swinging sensation this spring training, is once again available, as he was let loose by the Reds as the corresponding move for TJ Friedl's return. With Yankee fans' Rizzo angst at its peak right now, following a game-changing "error"/hit in the eighth inning against the Angels, it's an ironic time for a former Bomber to hit the market, even if those 2020 Babe Ruth comparisons feel staler than ever.

But the Ford you see before you isn't the Ford who posted a 122 OPS+ with 16 homers on the Mariners last summer, let alone the Ford who carved out a beloved role on the "Next Man Up" 2019 Yankees. He's much closer to the version the Yankees let loose back in 2021, when his hitting coach decided to flame the organization for not giving him a chance.

He wouldn't -- and shouldn't -- get a second chance in the Bronx this time, either.

Yankees could claim recently DFA'd Mike Ford, but it'd be nice if they didn't

Ford could theoretically provide slug in a vacuum, but — and we mean this in the nicest way possible — he wouldn't solve Rizzo's glove woes, and he also isn't thumping at the moment. Though Ford's 9-for-60 stretch that drove Reds fans batty is too small a sample size to qualify for a proper Savant-ing, his icy Statcast blues look a lot like Rizzo's, the only difference being a shorter leash.

A veteran backup to Rizzo (in addition to DJ LeMahieu) feels like a valid use of the bench spot currently occupied by Jahmai Jones, but any option the Yankees went with would need to be above-average defensively with a league-average offensive profile. Ford, at the moment, is moribund offensively and will never morph into a glove-first option as long as he plays this glorious game.

Maybe, while scoping through Ford's information, the Yankees will realize they were just looking at the wrong Red? Lefty-swinging ex-Dodger Edwin Rios has an .843 OPS playing first base at Triple-A Louisville. Just saying (but not saying it too loudly).