Thursday, December 27, 2012

A thought on Lester Oliveros' camp invite

Lester Oliveros had
one appearance for
the Twins in 2012;
he had a combined
ERA of 2.42 in
Double A and
Triple A.
Many of the players coming to the Twins major league spring training are either assured a place on the 25-man roster (Joe Mauer, Glen Perkins) or have a legitimate shot at winning a job (Pedro Florimon, Tyler Robertson). Some are there to be seen by the major league staff, either for potential use in 2013 (P.J. Walters probably fits into this category) or for longer-term purposes (Alex Meyer and Trevor May)

And then there's Lester Oliveros.

Oliveros had Tommy John surgery in August. He's not going be on the Opening Day roster in Minnesota, or in Rochester or New Britain, for that matter. He has no chance of catching the pitching coach's eye in camp. But he has that coveted major league invite anyway. Which raises the question, why?

Start with the roster games the Twins played with him this offseason. Oliveros -- acquired in August 2011 in the Delmon Young trade -- had been on the 40-man roster. The Twins non-tendered him this offseason -- which got him off the 40 -- and then re-signed him to a minor league contract. This spares them the expense of having him on the major league disabled list (and paying him a major league salary) as he rehabs the surgically-repaired elbow.

I assume that Oliveros, who was briefly a free agent, was guaranteed the spring training invite as a lure to remain in the organization.

And I can think of two possible advantages for him to have that invite:

  1. He'll get a bigger per diem while in major league camp.
  2. He may well have greater access to the rehab facilities as a major league invitee than as a minor leaguer.

The extra per diem for Oliveros is a rounding error in the context of the Twins payroll, and it's a low price to keep one of their more advanced bullpen power arms around while he gets back into condition to unleash his fastball once again.

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