Ahh Spring Training. We’re just a few days away from pitchers and catchers reporting, and the rest of the players will report not long after that.
I don’t know how anyone else feels, but once the players start to report to play some baseball, life just instantly gets better. The air just feel warmer, the sun just seems to glow brighter. Spring Training means that spring is just around the corner and it’s officially time for baseball season.
With every spring training, there’s always a non-roster invite to surprise the team and make the team out of spring training. In 2014, Yangervis Solarte made the Yankees roster, in fact he even won the starting third basemen job from Kelly Johnson, after being a non-roster invite to spring training. Justin Turner was originally invited to the Dodgers camp as non-roster, and Jose Quintana was invited to the Sox camp as a non-roster invite as well.
This year the Yankees have announced 23 non-roster invites to Major League camp, some with an opportunity to make the roster, and some just to get them working out with the team. Let’s take a look at the players who have an actual chance of making the roster:
- RP Nick Rumbelow
Nick Rumbelow made his MLB debut in June of last season, and he wasn’t too awful. He ended up going 1-1 with a 4.02 ERA in 15.2 innings. Rumbelow really only pitched in so-called “garbage time” in which the team was either winning or losing by a lot. Because of Rumbelow’s experience with the bigs already, he probably has the best shot to make the team out of spring training.
- INF Donovan Solano
Solano is a utility man, a player the Yankees desperately need. Currently the teams most “versatile” guarantee to make the roster is Starlin Castro, since he can play 2nd, SS and 3rd if need be. However, with Castro being the teams every day second basemen he won’t be given the utility role on top of being a starter. As of now, Ronald Torreyes is the current UTIL, but the team could always benefit from having more than one UTIL.
- RP Joe Mantiply
With only 2.2 IP in the Major Leagues, Mantiply is coming to the Yankees after being DFA’d by the Tigers, then he was released by the Yankees, and then 6 days later the Yankees resigned him. According to Fangraphs, the fastest pitch Mantiply threw this season was 89.3 MPH, which is well below the league average and even further below the Yankees bullpen average, thanks mainly to Chapman and Betances. Mantiply is a long shot to make the team, but with a tiny bit of MLB experience, the Yankees could choose him.
- SS Ruben Tejada
Praying it doesn’t happen, but if Didi Gregorius goes down with an injury, who’s going to back him up? Slide Castro over to his original position and finally give Rob Refsnyder a shot at second? Highly doubtful. Ruben Tejada only played in 36 games in the big leagues last season, the first season fresh off the controversial slide play with Chase Utley. Tejada is not anywhere close to the bat and glove combo that Didi has to offer, but he’s a nice back up in case Didi ends up going down. Didi hasn’t been on the DL since 2013 when he suffered an elbow injury and then almost immediately after coming back suffered a concussion, so he’s pretty durable, but it’s always smart to have a safety net.
- OF Clint Frazier
This one is more of a fun possibility. Clint Frazier was asked in an interview the other day about why he spent all offseason working out instead of taking a break and relaxing, and he responded by saying he wanted to work harder than everyone else in order to make the team out of spring training. While Frazier is not far off of a Major League promotion, making the team out the gate seems tough. Now if he hits .400 with 10 homers in spring training the Yankees will have no choice but to add him to the roster, but with his performance in AAA after the trade, that isn’t likely. But hey, crazier things have happened.