As expected, with a roster spot open the Mariners took a player in the major league portion of the Rule 5 Draft Thursday morning in Orlando. Perhaps not quite as expected, that player was not a pitcher. Rather, the Mariners selected first baseman Mike Ford from the Yankees.
Ford, 25, was a non-drafted free agent out of Princeton signed by the Yankees in July 2013. In 2017 he split the season between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre hitting .270/.404/.471 with 24 doubles abd 20 home runs while walking 94 times and striking out 72 times.
Ford was a teammate of Mariners manager Scott Servais’ son at Princeton.
Players selected in the major league portion of the Rule 5 Draft must be kept on the 25-man roster the entire season and remain active (not on the DL) for a minimum of 90 days or be offered back to his original team. With the Mariners expected to carry 13 pitchers and go with a 3-man bench next season, if they are to keep Ford it would seem that they would have to go with a utility player over a fourth outfielder. If they like Ford but determine they cannot keep him on the 25-man roster, they can try to clear him through waivers, in which case the Mariners would be able to try to work out a trade for Ford with the Yankees, enabling them to keep him in the organization.
The Mariners have looked to the Yankees for a number of young players in the recent past, most notably Ben Gamel and James Pazos. With a rich farm system, the Yankees were unable to protect everyone in the draft this winter and lost three other prospects along with Ford in the Major League Rule Draft.
In addition to Ford the Mariners picked up three players in the minor league draft:
• Joseph Odom, C, selected from Atlanta in the Triple-A Phase of the Rule 5 Draft.
• Tyler Baker, C, selected from Arizona in the Triple-A Phase of the Rule 5 Draft.
• Lane Ratliff, LHP, selected by Arizona in the Triple-A Phase of the Rule 5 Draft.