The Dodgers signed catcher Miguel Olivo and minor league catcher Griff Erickson to minor league contracts with invites to Spring Training on Tuesday. They also extended Spring Training invites to top prospect Joc Pederson as well as pitchers Carlos Frias, Zach Lee, Red Patterson, Chris Reed, Ross Stripling, catcher Chris O’Brien, and infielder Miguel Rojas.
The 15 non-roster invites so far are:
- JC Boscan, C
- Sam Demel, RHP
- Griff Erickson, C
- Carlos Frias, RHP
- Brendan Harris, INF
- Zach Lee, RHP
- Daniel Moskos, LHP
- Chris O’Brien, C
- Miguel Olivo, C
- Red Patterson, RHP
- Joc Pederson, OF
- Chris Reed, LHP
- Clint Robinson, INF
- Miguel Rojas, INF
- Ross Stripling, RHP
What is so interesting about this group of non-roster invites is that most of them are young prospects rather than washed up veterans who we are so used to seeing as NRIs going into Spring Training. This mostly youthful group of players perhaps reflects the Dodgers’ desire to go younger and focus on the farm system and the development of homegrown players.
Miguel Olivo is of course the exception. The 35-year old veteran has played in over 1,000 games over his 12-year career with a flurry of teams including the White Sox, Mariners, Padres, Marlins, Royals, Rockies, Mariners again, and he played 33 games with the Marlins last season. He hit as many as 23 homeruns back in 2009 for the Royals, but last season Olivo hit just .203 with a .642 OPS and 23 strikeouts in 74 at-bats. Then there was the ugly scene in June when Olivo walked out on the team after the Marlins did not release him upon his request after not getting much playing time. Olivo did not play the rest of the season, was placed on the restricted list, and then eventually released by Miami.
Olivo will not likely break camp with the Dodgers, but provides some extra wiggle room should Drew Butera be claimed off waivers since he is out of options. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Dodgers plan to go with A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz again next season. During Spring Training there is always a need for extra catchers since there are so many pitchers in camp. The Dodgers are also lacking depth in the catching department across the farm system, so the non-roster players offer a look see for the Dodgers to possibly add to their ranks if not on the big team then at the minor league level.
The Dodgers also signed Griff Erickson to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. Erickson has played seven seasons in the minors for the Dodgers since being drafted back in 2006. The 25-year old has only played one game above the AA level back in 2007 for the then Triple-A team for the Dodgers, the Las Vegas 51s. He became a minor league free agent after last season, and the Dodgers have decided to bring him back.
With the bullpen full, the outfield full, the starting rotation almost full (definitely full if the Dodgers should land Masahiro
Tanaka), there will be little room for competition for a spot on the Dodgers roster amongst these NRIs this Spring. The infielders like Miguel Rojas and Brendan Harris may get the longest look, and don’t be surprised if one should make the team and end up on the plane to Australia barring a Michael Young signing or a pickup of another gristly infield vet.
There are also just 21 games this Spring which will be played at Camelback Ranch before the Boys in Blue head off to Sydney for the Opening Series. Unlike previous years when the Dodgers didn’t finalize rosters until during or after the Freeway Series with the Angels, decisions will have to be made much earlier.
Pitchers and catcher report to Camelback Ranch on February 8th, and position players are scheduled to report on February 13th.