3 non-roster invitees to watch this spring

February 4th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Mandy Bell’s Guardians Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

On Feb. 15, pitchers and catchers will participate in the first workout at Guardians camp in Goodyear, Ariz. That means these newsletters will be filled with exciting new content pertaining to the upcoming season. Until then, we’ll continue to take deeper looks of what to expect during Spring Training. Let’s get into the good stuff:

Every year in mid-February, each player on the 40-man roster prepares for six weeks in the desert sun, preparing their bodies for another long 162-game season. Most of those individuals know they have locked up a spot on the Opening Day roster. A handful of them expect to compete for a vacancy. And then, there’s a group of non-roster invitees.

Some of the non-roster players who receive invitations to big league camp are exciting prospects who have built strong reputations in the Minors. They haven’t yet been added to the 40-man roster, but they’ve piqued the interest of the Guardians and are close enough to being promoted to the Major League team. So, the organization tries to get as close of a look as it can during the early weeks of camp. Non-roster invitees can also be veteran players who have signed Minor League contracts and are attempting to fight for a spot on the Opening Day roster. Maybe they’re coming back from injury. Maybe they’re at the tail-end of their career.

Whoever these players are, at least one non-roster invitee always seems to make their way onto Cleveland’s Opening Day roster. Let’s take a look at the three biggest non-roster names you should keep an eye on as baseball gets underway in Goodyear, Ariz., this month.

Well, this one is obvious. Aside from being a fan favorite in Cleveland, Carrasco returns to a team that is in need of veteran leadership. Although the starting pitching pipeline is thinner than the organization would like and could use a sixth man waiting in Triple-A Columbus, Carrasco could make sense out of the Guardians’ bullpen. He’s served in a long-relief role in the past, he could use his experience to help him bounce between the ‘pen and the rotation, as needed, and his leadership could be tremendously impactful on yet another young Guardians roster. He and Xzavion Curry will likely compete for similar roles, but Carrasco’s experience could bring an edge in favor of the 36-year-old righty.

Gose is as intriguing of a player as the Guardians are going to evaluate over the next two months. Not only is he 33 years old and attempting to make a second big league career as a flame-throwing hurler after serving as an outfielder for five years in the Majors, he’s now coming off of Tommy John surgery that’s kept him out of play since the middle of the 2022 season. A lefty reliever that can touch 100 mph on the radar gun is tempting for any big league coaching staff, but prior to the injury, Gose still needed to prove he could command the strike zone before he’d become a reliable weapon. He’ll need some time to get back into the swing of things in ’24, but it’ll be good for the Guardians to get an idea of where he’s at during their six-week stay in Goodyear.

All eyes will be on Manzardo. He was the reason the Guardians parted ways with a red-hot Aaron Civale at last year’s Trade Deadline as they tried to catch the first-place Twins. Not only does he have excellent bat-to-ball skills, but he has the potential to be a power bat with more experience, and he put that on display during the Arizona Fall League this offseason. The infield is overly crowded, especially now that Rule 5 Draft pick Deyvison De Los Santos is in the mix (and must remain on the 40-man roster if the Guardians don’t want to give the D-backs the opportunity to take him back). But that doesn’t mean Manzardo doesn’t have a chance to make the Opening Day roster. And if his bat can look the way it did a few months ago, it’ll be hard to resist.