An invitation to Spring Training on a Minor League deal doesn't exactly rate as the pinnacle of a veteran player's career. But it can be the start of something special for one who's hoping for an opportunity to contribute to a winning ballclub.Relievers Ryan Madson and Franklin Morales did well
An invitation to Spring Training on a Minor League deal doesn't exactly rate as the pinnacle of a veteran player's career. But it can be the start of something special for one who's hoping for an opportunity to contribute to a winning ballclub.
Relievers Ryan Madson and Franklin Morales did well for themselves and the Royals by signing Minor League deals last offseason. The duo combined for 135 relief appearances and 125 2/3 innings during the regular season for the World Series champions.
For any of this year's dozens of veteran non-roster invitees, the goal is simple: Make a club out of Spring Training, and take it from there. There are no guarantees for the future, just hope for another chance in the bigs.
A few notable names on NRI lists this spring:
Bronson Arroyo, Nationals
Arroyo, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2014, was actually traded twice -- from the D-backs to the Braves, and then to the Dodgers -- before becoming a free agent this offseason. The right-hander turns 39 on Feb. 24 and enters Nationals camp with his former manager from the Reds, Dusty Baker. He's joined on the Nats' NRI list by infielder Brendan Ryan, and outfielders Chris Heisey and Reed Johnson.
Chris Capuano, Brewers
A former All-Star for the Brewers, Capuano is aiming for a bounce-back season at age 37 after a rough go with the Yankees in 2015. Milwaukee has a few other invitees with Major League resumes, including Will Middlebrooks, Alex Presley and Eric Young Jr.
Joba Chamberlain, Indians
It's another reset button for the former Yankee. Chamberlain's career track slipped further during a 2015 season split between the Tigers and Royals. He's one of several veteran pitchers in camp with the Tribe on NRI deals, including Ross Detwiler, Tom Gorzelanny, Craig Stammen and Joe Thatcher.
Ike Davis, Rangers
Once part of a wave of impressive young Mets, Davis is coming off hip surgery and looking to recapture the power he showed earlier in his career. Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland hold down the spots where he would fit best on Texas' Major League roster, but Davis has a comfort level with manager Jeff Banister, the former bench coach in Pittsburgh when Davis was there.
Kyle Kendrick, Braves
After 185 starts with the Phillies, Kendrick gave up a National League-high 100 earned runs and 33 homers in 2015, his one season with the Rockies. He joins a bunch of veteran NRI pitchers in Braves camp, including David Carpenter, Jhoulys Chacin, Alexi Ogando and Alex Torres.
Joel Peralta, Mariners
Peralta led the American League with 80 appearances in 2013 and logged 69 for the Rays the following season, but he was limited to 33 games with neck problems last year while with the Dodgers. So it's the NRI route for Peralta, who's hoping to make a Mariners bullpen in flux.
Carlos Quentin, Twins
Retired at 33 a year ago, the two-time All-Star is back to give it another shot. The Twins' outfield is crowded with young talent, but he'll bring experience to the table. Best case for Quentin, he'll be up in the bigs, getting his power swing going again. Or maybe he will retire at age 34.
Wandy Rodriguez, Astros
Here's a true homecoming. Rodriguez, who didn't make the Braves as an NRI guy last year, was the Astros' top lefty before the franchise's transition to the AL. He's back, hoping to help Houston reach the postseason for a second straight season.
Gaby Sanchez, Mariners
He wasn't that big in Japan, but he's back home. A member of the Pirates team that broke the franchise's postseason drought, Sanchez spent last season in Japan. He hit .226 for the Rakuten Golden Eagles, known for being the team that brought you Masahiro Tanaka.
Skip Schumaker, Padres
Long a utility player and then some for the Cardinals, Schumaker spent a year with the Dodgers, two with the Reds, and now enters Padres camp as a non-roster guy at age 36. Right-hander Philip Humber is another familiar name with NRI status in San Diego's camp.
Chien-Ming Wang, Royals
The Yankees' starter for the final Opening Day at the old Yankee Stadium in 2008, Wang last pitched in the Major Leagues for the Blue Jays in 2013. Since then, he has pitched in the Minors for the Reds, White Sox, Braves and Mariners. Wang is joined in camp by another pitcher with New York ties, Dillon Gee, formerly of the Mets. The Royals also invited outfielder Travis Snider, infielder Clint Barmes and pitchers Brian Duensing and Ross Ohlendorf to Spring Training.
Whether the Royals -- or any of the other teams looking for veteran help from outside their 40-man roster -- find what they're hoping to in the pool of non-roster invitees, the dozens of players hoping for a chance will have just that as camps head from February to March and into the season.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnSchlegelMLB.