What is a Spring Training Invite?

You may see the following term a lot in the coming days as we approach Spring Training:

Signed to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training

So, what exactly does this mean to invite a player to spring training? Each year, Major League teams spend the winter filling up their 40-man roster. For instance, the Mariners roster is currently full with 40 players. You can then add players to the organization by signing them to minor league contracts, and then invite them to participate in the Major League portion of spring training. Basically meaning, those players will be given the chance to compete for a spot on the Opening Day Roster, but during spring, they don’t count towards the limit on the 40-man roster.

In recent days, the Mariners have signed four players to minor league contracts with invites to spring training: OF Cole Gillespie, RHP Matt Palmer, RHP Ramon Ramirez and catcher Humberto Quintero. Several of these signings add depth to the organization at certain positions. Currently the Mariners have only two catchers on the 40-man roster (Mike Zunino and Jesus Sucre), so the addition of Quintero to this crop creates depth.

What are the odds of a non-roster player making the 25-man Opening Day Roster? While we can’t put a number on it, there are always a few surprises that come out of spring training. Names like Kameron Loe (2013), Munenori Kawasaki (2012), Erasmo Ramirez (2012), Kevin Millwood (2012), Ryan Langerhans (2011), Luis Rodriguez (2011), Jamey Wright (2011), Adam Kennedy (2011) and Mike Sweeney (2010) have made Opening Day rosters in recent years after being non-roster invites. There are countless others that were non-roster invites during spring training, started the season in the minors, and then appeared at the Major League level.

Another wrinkle to the “non-roster invitation” involves several players from within the organization who will also participate in spring training. Whether it was Stefen Romero last spring, or Felix Hernandez as a teenager in 2004, several young players from within the organization get a chance to gain experience and education in a Major League setting. The list of organizational spring training invites will be made later this month.

Hopefully this provides you an idea of what this term means and who to look for when the team hits the field during spring training.

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