Marlins' non-roster invitees could find roles
MIAMI -- Upgrading the roster has come at a hefty price for the Marlins. In several cases, the organization had to give in order to receive talents such as Dee Gordon, Mat Latos and Martin Prado.
In pulling off six trades before Christmas, Miami parted with 13 players, including Casey McGehee, Garrett Jones, Nathan Eovaldi as well as top prospect Andrew Heaney.
Because so many parts were moved, the farm system suffered a jolt. Building that back up will take a little time, but in the meantime, the Marlins do have some players not on the 40-man roster who could surprise in Spring Training and contribute at some point in the regular season.
Here are five non-roster invitees worth watching when pitchers and catchers begin workouts on Feb. 20.
C Jhonatan Solano
The Marlins view this Minor League signing as a big deal. Adding catching depth was a priority, and Solano has impressed with his defense. The brother of Miami infielder Donovan Solano, Jhonatan has appeared in 36 big league games with Washington. His presence allows prospect J.T. Realmuto more time to develop behind regular Jarrod Saltalamacchia and backup Jeff Mathis.
OF Austin Wates
The Marlins acquired Wates, who has never played in the big leagues, from the Astros last July in the Jarred Cosart trade. The 26-year-old plays all three outfield spots, and he offers some much-needed speed. He swiped 37 bases and batted .286 with a .374 on-base percentage at the Triple-A level in 2014. Even though Miami is seeking a left-handed-hitting fourth outfielder with big league experience, that doesn't mean the club won't carry a fifth outfielder.
OF Cole Gillespie
Gillespie is in a similar situation as Wates, offering versatility to play all three outfield spots. The 30-year-old also has 113 games of big league experience, including 35 with Seattle and Toronto in 2014. Gillespie's career Minor League slash line is .293/.393/.478, including 96 homers in 892 games. He offers some pop.
LHP Chris Narveson
Narveson pitched for Yakult in Japan in 2014, and the 33-year-old posted a 4.53 ERA in 24 starts. The performance wasn't outstanding, but the lefty could play a role during the season as a spot starter. He last pitched in the big leagues in 2013, with Milwaukee. Narveson is 26-18 with a 4.65 ERA in 97 MLB games.
INF Jordany Valdespin
Valdespin offers versatility and familiarity. The 27-year-old can play the infield and outfield. He's also got experience coming off the bench, appearing in 52 games with the club last year. Working in Valdespin's favor is that he bats left-handed and has pinch-hit experience.