Saturday, January 7, 2017

The non-roster invitees

The Twins on Friday named 16 non-roster invitees to spring training:

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
Wimmers ended 2016 on the active roster and was outrighted but remained with the organization. He, Slegers and Goodrum all went through the Rule 5 draft unclaimed. Reed, I think, was eligible for Rule 5 also but didn't get picked. Gordon and Gonsalves are two of the organization's top prospects but didn't need to be protected this winter.

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.

1 comment:

  1. I think Reed was ineligible for the Rule 5 Draft, I didn't look it up. I also think Wimmers is just organizational depth at this point, and while he could appear in the majors, again, I suspect that would mean things did not go as planned or hoped for.

    I find the Gordon and Goodrum invitations interesting as well. I doubt if Gordon has any real chance to make the major league roster. He is there to see how major leaguers do things as he needs more development, yet. I agree about Goodrum, I thought he had some chance to be the shortstop of the future, but he didn't hit and apparently his defense wasn't that special at short.

    Since Goodrum has shown a little more with the bat over the last year or two, has versatility and good speed, he could factor in as a utility man at some point. He may also of resigned with the Twins in part because he was promised an invite to major league spring training.

    I suspect that if somebody other than Escobar or Polanco ends up as the starting shortstop out of spring training, it will be that the Twins acquire a veteran to begin the season there. Otherwise, at this point, Santana and Veilema should rank ahead of Goodrum.