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Catz Corner: The Truth About Non Roster Invitees

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Non Roster invitees are a part of January baseball. And every now and then, they can make a significant contribution.

This dude was a non roster invitee last year. Can you name him?
This dude was a non roster invitee last year. Can you name him?
Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

In the past few days, much has been made about the Phillies signing three non roster invitees, Aaron Cook, Juan Perez, and Rodrigo Lopez to minor league deals. Have they lost their mind? Is something really wrong with Halladay or Hamels? Are we going to trade Philippe Aumont and Jeremy Horst (a non roster invitee last year) and Justin Defratus for an OF?

Much of this is likely residual effects of a less than mind blowing off season filled with minor moves as opposed to a splash, but since its slow, I thought I'd take a minute to explain how the process works.

Teams regularly invite players to spring training that are not on the 40 man roster. These players come from a mix of minor leaguers currently in the system not ON the 40 man, and free agents who don't warrant a spot on the 40 man roster for various reasons. These players are invited for a variety of reasons, including:

1. Spring training depth (The Phillies have three catchers on the roster right now. Valle, Kratz, and Ruiz. They have 22 pitchers. Do the math.)

2. Organizational depth

3. Insurance against injury

4. Hopes of catching lightning in a bottle.

As of today there are 12 Non Roster Invitees currently scheduled to make it to Spring training. 2 are catchers (LeRud and Humberto Quintero) 5 are pitchers, 4 are infielders (including Mini Mart and Pete Orr) and one is an OF. Expect to see 5-6 more names, probably Cody Asche and Tommy Joseph for sure, and a few more from the farm system.

In 2012, the Phillies brought 18 Non Roster invitees to Camp. 10 pitchers (Dave Bush, Scott Elarton, Jeremy Horst, Austin Hyatt, Pat Misch, Joel Pinero, David Purcey, Bj Rosenberg, Brain Sanches and Raul Valdez, Dontrelle Willis). 2 catchers (LeRud and Tuffy Gosewich) 3 IF (Hector Luna, Pete Orr, Kevin Frandsen) and 3 OF (Juan Pierre, Lou Montanez, Scott Posednik)

By my count, 9 of those guys spent time on the big league roster, and some (Horst, Pierre, Valdez, Frandsen) made significant impacts. 2 others, Pinero and Willis, made no impact whatsoever.

But going into the spring, if anyone thought Pierre would get the AB's he did, or Frandsen would do what he did you would have been the guy I want to buy lottery tickets with. In addition, many, myself included, saw Willis as a sure bet for the bullpen. That said, imagine how the season would have went without some of these guys, depth wise, with all the crap that happened to the team. Thats the whole point of in point look at NRI Josh Fields.

Fields was the 18th overall pick in the 2004 draft. he's played 217 major league games at 3b/1B and OF. (last in 2010) He's 30 years old and his major league numbers are pedestrian. But he's put up a 320/375/500 line at AAA last two years, with double digit home runs. If he has a good spring, and say, Frandsen doesn't, and Frandsen can't do what he did last year, and Michael Young (or God forbid Utley) goes down mid season? Welcome to Philly Josh Fields.

Thats the point of these signings. That and every now and they make the ML roster out of camp (Cruz and Cook both did this last season...)

In 2011, the Phils invited 19 NRI's. Some of the notable names who contributed to the team include Erik Kratz, Pete Orr, Michael Stutes, and Michael Schwimmer. Some others included Brandon Moss and Jason Grilli.

So the moral here is sometimes the guys who don't make the team, end up contributing elsewhere as well. (think 2010, and Ryan Vogelsong.)

Its been that way every year forever. between 17-20 NRI's every season.

So Aaron Cook could be this years Ryan Vogelsong. Or this years Joel Pinero, or this years Aaron Cook. We won't know until April. Or July, or maybe even July of 2014.Either way, we're not comitting money, other than for spring training here. So everyone gets a look.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to work on my Philippe Aumont, Jeremy Horst, Justin DeFratus for Justin Upton piece.

Catz Out.