#MNTwins announce 16 players on minor league contracts have been invited to major league spring training camp. pic.twitter.com/OGBRJYrIYw— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) January 6, 2017
This is almost certainly not the final list. These 16, plus the 40 on the roster, would make 56 bodies in camp, and they generally have more than 60.
For one thing, there are only two catchers on this list (Eddie Rodriguez and Dan Rohlfing), plus three on the 40 (Jason Castro, John Ryan Murphy and Mitch Garver). They will want more than five catchers to handle all the bullpen sessions in the early days of camp. I figure they'll sign at least one, maybe two, catchers off the minor league free agent list before camp starts.
There are, broadly speaking, two kinds of NRIs: minor-league free agents who are promised a camp invite but are viewed as organizational depth, and in-house players who aren't on the 40 but are of interest anyway. The second group is, to me, the more interesting.
That group this year is
- RHP Jake Reed
- RHP Aaron Slegers
- RHP Alex Wimmers
- LHS Stephen Gonsalves
- IF Niko Goodrum
- IF Nick Gordon
The invitation to Goodrum interests me, partly because a few years ago I thought he was the most likely shortstop candidate in the system at the time. And almost immediately after that the Twins started playing him all over the infield and using Jorge Polanco heavily at shortstop.
Today there's no clear favorite to be the regular shortstop in 2017. The Twins had three different players serve as the "regular" at the position at different times last year, and two of them -- Eduardo Escobar and Polanco -- remain. But Polanco is a poor defensive shortstop, and there remains a reluctance to commit to Escobar.
I don't think either NRI infielder, Goodrum or Gordon, is likely to emerge with the job, or even a roster spot. But they will be in camp, and there is an open job -- and a significant one at that.