As we wait for Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, Bronson Arroyo, A.J. Burnett, Kendrys Morales and Nelson Cruz to sign, Buster Olney reminds us that there are still a lot of other interesting names out there in free agency, including Jason Hammel, Chris Capuano, Fernando Rodney, Oliver Perez, Tommy Hanson, Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey, to name a few. Some of these guys will end up signing minor league contracts with incentives if they're healthy and make a major league roster, like the deal Scott Baker just signed with the Mariners.
With that in mind, let's take a quick scroll through the American League and check out some of the interesting non-roster invitees to spring training.
Sands is a guy I used to like a bit. He came up with the Dodgers and was traded to the Pirates, and doesn't really have a position although he can be spotted in the outfield and at first base. He has a chance to stick as a right-handed bat off the bench, spelling Matt Joyce and David DeJesus against lefties. Lowe is the kind of arm the Rays always take a chance on.
Either could make the team as a bench player.
They have a bunch of pitchers invited and the bullpen is pretty thin so one or two may actually make the team, but Sizemore is the interesting guy here. He missed all of 2012 and nearly all of 2013 after twice tearing his ACL. He hit .245/.342/.399 with the Tigers and A's in 2011, so he's a viable option at third if he can get rid of the rust. Here's more on the Yankees' other non-roster invites from It's About the Money.
Yes, that Tomo Ohka, who last pitched in the majors in 2009.
Ray is the left-hander the Tigers acquired from the Nationals in the Doug Fister trade. He won't break camp with the team but a strong spring could put him in line in case one of the starters goes down.
Hands down, the most interesting list of invites. I assume Giambi makes the team again, with Marcum maybe having a shot at the fifth starter slot. Francoeur, Carson and Morgan are possibly in a battle to be a fifth outfielder (edge to Francoeur, who could end up platooning with David Murphy).
Sano and Buxton? Catch them early in spring training if you can.
Axelrod lost his spot on the 40-man roster after struggling in the rotation in 2013. He'll get another shot and could stick as a long reliever/spot starter.
Oakland Athletics -- No announcements yet on non-roster players.
The big name here is Mulder, the ESPN analyst who last pitched in the majors in 2008, making his the most intriguing comeback story of the season. Mulder had retired after two shoulder surgeries but decided to try a comeback after watching the delivery of Dodgers reliever Paco Rodriguez. He auditioned for several teams, was clocked at 89-90 mph and eventually signed with the Angels.
After missing all of 2012 with Tommy John surgery, Baker was able to make just three starts last year with the Cubs. He'll try again with the Mariners. Leone and Smith are right-handed relievers who could break camp with the big team.
The Astros have invited some of their top prospects. Springer is the guy to watch. Will he make the team out of spring training or will the Astros send him down to Triple-A for a few weeks to save on his service time?