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2 catchers among Rays' non-roster invitees

@juanctoribio
January 13, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG -- After using a franchise-record 57 players in 2019, the Rays have continued to harp on the importance of quality depth throughout the organization. On Monday, they announced that they have come to terms with five players on Minor League deals with invites to big league camp. Of

ST. PETERSBURG -- After using a franchise-record 57 players in 2019, the Rays have continued to harp on the importance of quality depth throughout the organization. On Monday, they announced that they have come to terms with five players on Minor League deals with invites to big league camp.

Of the five players signed, catchers Chris Herrmann and Kevan Smith have the best chance at making an impact with the Major League club. Barring some late changes, the Rays are going into Spring Training with Mike Zunino and Michael Perez as the two projected backstops on the roster.

But knowing that Zunino and Perez could miss some time with an injury over the course of a season, Tampa Bay needed to add depth, and that’s where Herrmann and Smith come into play.

Herrmann, 32, has played parts of eight season in the Majors, splitting time with the Twins, D-backs, Mariners and A’s. He has hit .205/.282/.344 with 25 home runs and 103 RBIs in 370 career games. Last season, Herrmann batted .202 in 30 games with Oakland. The University of Miami product was a sixth-round Draft pick of the Twins in 2009.

Smith, 31, also provides the Rays with another option with Major League experience. He played in 67 games with the Angels last season, hitting five home runs and finishing with a .710 OPS. Smith battled multiple injuries in 2019 and was placed on the injured list three times.

Aside from the two catchers, the Rays also came to terms with right-hander Aaron Slegers, outfielder Ryan LaMarre and left-hander D.J. Snelten.

The Rays acquired Slegers from the Pirates last season, and the 27-year-old right-hander appeared in one game for Tampa Bay, allowing one run in three innings. Due to a crowded 40-man roster, the Rays designated Slegers for assignment, but he stayed in the organization and finished the season with Triple A-Durham. At 6-foot-10, Slegers is the tallest player in franchise history.

LaMarre, 31, has played parts of five seasons in the Majors and gives the Rays some outfield depth heading into Spring Training. The acquisition of Randy Arozarena gave the club a much-needed fourth outfielder, but Tampa Bay wanted to add another option given the injury history of some of its players.

In addition to the five players invited to Major League camp, the Rays agreed to terms on Minor League deals (without an invite to camp) with right-hander Angel German and infielder/outfielder Conrad Gregor. The latter spent the 2019 season with the New Jersey Jackals of the Canadian American Association and stole 49 bases.

Tampa Bay is expected to add more prospects to the non-roster-invitee list before pitchers and catchers report to Port Charlotte, Fla., on Feb. 12.

Juan Toribio covers the Rays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.