It’s the dead point in the offseason, and there’s a good chance the major-league roster won’t change until after spring training gets rolling. So, in the quiet, I thought it would be a good time to look at some of the non-roster invites the team has signed to minor-league deals to this point. Of course, most of these guys won’t contribute in any meaningful way in 2015, but each is given a chance to win a role on the team, and could provide some important depth. This season there are a few interesting names making their way to Fort Myers.
Luke Montz, C, 31 years old
While the Red Sox have a wealth of depth all over the diamond in the minor leagues, one area in which they are lacking is their third catcher. Blake Swihart should be ready at some point, but with Daniel Butler and Ryan Lavarnway shipped out of town, the Red Sox need a contingency for at least the first few months. Enter Montz. The veteran journeyman missed all of 2014, but did get some playing time in the Arizona Fall League. His calling card will be his power, and it can hold some value if he can make consistent contact.
Humberto Quintero, C, 35
Montz isn’t going to be handed the third catcher role, though. Quintero has been around forever, appearing in the majors in parts of twelve different seasons, with the majority of them coming in Houston. For all of that experience, though, he’s never held down a regular role at the highest level, with 276 marking his career high in plate appearances. Last season, he spent almost the entire year in the PCL with Seattle’s AAA club, and put up a decent .290/.311/.425. He has a strong arm and the experience edge over Montz in this battle.
Luiz Martinez, C, 30
Yet another backstop added to the spring training mix, and the youngest of the three. As with most players on this list, he’s a journeyman. Unlike Quintero, though, he’s had very limited exposure to MLB pitching, with just 87 career plate appearances. He spent all of last season in the PCL between a couple of organizations, and wasn’t great. He’s probably the long shot in the least intriguing three-man spring training battle in baseball history.
Jeff Bianchi, IF, 28
The former second rounder is one of the few interesting names on this list who has a decent chance at making an impact in 2015. He has been with the Brewers for the last few years, and played in 100 games in 2013. Last season, he missed the majority of the year with elbow issues. He’s a fine utility player, but is easily exposed at the plate and carries close to zero power in his bat. With that being said, he’s an excellent defensive player at multiple positions. If something happens to Brock Holt, they decide that Deven Marrero needs to start the year at AAA, and want a backup infielder who can play shortstop (AKA not Garin Cecchini), Jeff Bianchi is a fine backup options for the utility man role.
Bryan LaHair, 1B/OF, 32
While he’s probably not good enough to carve out a role for the Red Sox this year, there are a couple reasons why LaHair is an interesting name. For one thing, it was only three seasons ago that he was playing in the All-Star game after a monster first half for the Cubs. The other reason is that he’s a local boy, hailing from Worcester. Still, he went to Japan in 2013 and failed there, then struggled mightily at AA in 2014. His power is intriguing, but it’s hard to see him bouncing back at this point.
Quintin Berry, OF, 30
Obviously, Berry is a familiar face, as he was a member of the 2013 championship team. Last season, he was with Baltimore, spending most of the year with their AAA affiliate, and playing fairly well. He's not the kind of guy you bank on playing a lot in the majors, but his speed is enough to want him in the organization. He's the perfect pinch run specialist to have for the stretch run when the rosters expand.
Blake Tekotte, OF, 28
The former Padre and White Sox outfielder is something of an intriguing name, though he’d probably be spending most of his time in the minors. He has very minimal MLB experience, but showed some promising power at AAA last season. Most of that power came in the International League rather than the Pacific Coast League, too. The former third round pick was relatively highly thought of just a few years ago, and he’s young enough to hold out hope he can be a late bloomer, even if the chances are very slim.
Photo Credit: Brad Penner- USA TODAY Sports
Dana Eveland, LHP, 31
Now, we get to the pitchers, who are the group that is most likely to carve out a role as a non-roster invitee. The reason is the volatility of relief arms, in regards to both their health and their performance. Eveland represents the most intriguing name on this list. He spent most of his time with the Mets last season, and put forth a very good season. In 27-1/3 innings over 30 appearances, he put up a 2.63 ERA (134 ERA+), with 9 strikeouts per nine innings and just two walks per nine. Though he wouldn’t be able to fill any LOOGY role, he fits the Red Sox desire for having a staff filled with ground ball pitchers.
Felipe Paulino, RHP, 31
He doesn’t have the same recent success as Eveland, but one could make a solid argument for Paulino being the most intriguing name here. He’s been hampered by major injuries in the last few years, but claims he’s fully healthy for the first time since 2011. He’s been a starter in the past, but likely is a better fit in the bullpen at this point. What’s intriguing about Paulino is the velocity, as he’s a former 100 MPH flamethrower. If there’s even a slight chance he can get back to that level, he’s someone to keep an eye on this spring.
Mitchell Boggs, RHP, 31
Here, we have yet another former regular now hampered by injury and poor performance. Just three years ago, he was a major part of the Cardinals’ bullpen, racking up at least 58 innings in four straight years. In 2013, though, he lost all semblance of control and was eventually sent to Colorado for cash. He spent 2014 in the minors and completely lost the ability to strike batters out. He represents the highest ceiling on this list, but the chances of him reaching it are slim to none.
Casey Crosby, RHP, 26
He has spent the entirety of his career to this point in Detroit, leaving the motor city for the first time in 2015. He spent a little time in the majors in 2012, but the former top prospect has been a career minor leaguer besides that short stint. Elbow injuries caused him to miss most of 2014, but he’s shown decent stuff in his career. His undoing, as is the case with many young pitchers, has been a lack of control. He’s young enough and has enough of a pedigree to dream on him more than most of the other names here.
Matt Hoffman, LHP, 26
A minor-league journeyman, he spent last season between AA and AAA and put up decent numbers. "He’s a lefty" is probably the best thing I can say about him. Maybe he can carve out a spot in Portland to start the year.
As usual, there aren’t a ton of names who we will see after March is over, but a few have a chance to stick. Bianchi is a solid backup plan for the utility man role. One of those catchers will be in the majors should Christian Vazquez or Ryan Hanigan get hurt at some point early in the year. Eveland, Paulino, Boggs and Crosby could make big enough strides to make a spot in the bullpen for themselves. Quintin Berry is a superstar (in my heart). It’s always fun to have some new names to watch, even if most won’t stick.