By JED WEISBERGER
The list of Spring Training Non-Roster Invitees for the 30 Major League Baseball teams is always an interesting read.
Most are populated by veterans hoping for another shot, and prospects looking to show the front office what they can do before being sent back to minor-league camp and learning what level of the system they will be assigned to.
This will be complicated by the fact some 100 free-agents remain unsigned – with pitchers already in camps and position players reporting early next week – but that is another story for another day.
There is a group of interesting players who have signed Minor League deals, with that coveted “Invitation to Spring Training,” and status as an NRI.
For instance, outfielder Jeff Decker is in the Atlanta camp, hoping to catch on with a rebuilding club. Baltimore may be thinking former Mets reliever and left-hander Josh Edgin, apparently fully recovered from knee issues, can help its bullpen.
Outfielder Rusney Castillo has gone from a high-priced Cuban import to an NRI with Boston, with once-promising left-hander Travis Wood hoping to hang on with Detroit after almost losing a finger to a crossbow accident a month ago.
Catcher Tim Federowicz, who has appeared in 111 games with the Dodgers, Cubs and Giants, looks to reprise his backup role with Houston.
Outfielder Scott Van Slyke, who had some good times, but battled wrist issues in his years with the Dodgers, may be just what Miami needs to have around if healthy. Former Phillies farmhand Brock Stassi, a first baseman who showed some power in the minors and reached the majors in a 51-game stint in 2017, get a shot with Minnesota after he was out of options.
The Mets will draw a few extra fans in Port St. Lucie with outfielder Tim Tebow in camp as an NR. The Yankees could keep either Danny Espinosa or Jace Peterson as an infield backup if needed.
Veteran outfielders Ryan Flaherty and Collin Cowgill are in the Phillies camp, while down the road from Clearwater in Bradenton, outfielder Daniel Nava is given a legitimate shot to come north as a Pittsburgh Pirate.
Outfielder Adonis Garcia, who hustles and showed he has a decent all-around game in three years in Atlanta, aims for a spot with St. Louis. Righty Dustin McGowan, who has made 290 major-league appearances, aims to keep it going with Tampa Bay.
Once a top-flight reliever, righty John Axford feels he can help Toronto, with righty Edwin Jackson trying to carve a spot for himself with Washington after a 5-5, 5.07 effort in 13 appearances with the Nats in 2017.
Lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo is in Arizona’s camp, and well-traveled outfielder Peter Bourjos would love to catch on with the Cubs. Once touted as Detroit’s next top closer, right-handed fire-baller Bruce Rondon eyes a spot in White Sox bullpen.
Cincinnati could use help in the outfield, and former Yankee Mason Williams could fill the bill. The Cleveland lineup is not the easiest to crack, but Melvin Upton Jr. may have value as a reserve. Colorado’s NRI list consists mainly of prospects.
Infielder Ryan Goins battles for a spot with Kansas City after 448 appearances with Toronto. Former Yankees farmhand and right-handed pitcher Vicente Campos, is in the Angels camp, and ex-Yankees system two-way pitcher Pat Venditti the Dodgers camp.
First baseman Ji-Man Choi, who saw time with the Yankees in 2017, is with Milwaukee. Former Yankees top draft pick and outfielder Slade Heathcott is in the Oakland camp, and infielder Allen Craig tries to jump-start his career with San Diego.
Lefty Derek Holland tries to revitalize matters with San Francisco, as does former Mets outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis with Seattle. Ageless righty Bartolo Colon believes he can help Texas.