Today, the Washington Nationals announced they have signed four players to minor league deals with invites to spring training
In the offseason, the major signings tend to get the most attention. However, a non-roster invitee can sometimes make a difference during the season. Today, the Washington Nationals announced that four players who will be going to spring training in West Palm Beach this February as non-roster invitees:
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Brandon Snyder appeared in 37 games for the Atlanta Braves last season and hit .239 with four home runs and nine RBI’s. Most of his at-bats this past season came as a pinch-hitter when he was 9-for-31 (.290) with eight of those hits going for extra bases.
Back in 2005, the Baltimore Orioles selected Snyder with the 13th pick in the MLB Draft. Snyder has shown some versatility defensively, which would help the Nats should he make the team out of spring training. At triple-A Gwinnett, he played all three outfield positions and played a game at first base. He has also played 26 Major League games at third base.
The other position player, Joseph, only has played seven games at the Major League level with the New York Yankees back in 2013. The 28-year-old played last season in the Orioles organization at double-A Bowie and triple-A Norfolk. At Norfolk, Joseph hit .305 with seven home runs and 34 RBI’s. He played all 79 triple-A games at second base.
As for the pitchers, Eitel has yet to appear in a Major League game in his career since being drafted by the Diamondbacks in 2010 (17th round) out of the Rose-Hulman Institute Of Technology. The 28-year-old played for the El Paso Chihuahas (San Diego Padres triple-A affiliate) last season and went 5-1 as a reliever with a 3.67 ERA (54 games).
In those 54 games, Eitel had nine strikeouts per nine innings and his walk rate was high (5.2 walks per nine). He has had over five walks per nine in each of the last two seasons. With that being said, teams hit .176 in August and .143 in September against him this past season as El Paso made the triple-A Championship Game (lost to Scranton Wilkes-Barre).
Like Eitel, Lara has yet to appear in a Major League game. The 27-year old from the Dominican Republic had a 4.88 ERA in 25 games with the Sacramento Rivercats (San Francisco Giants triple-A affiliate) and played 16 games in the Korean League (6.70 ERA) this past season. Before being released by the Giants in June, Lara did not allow an earned run to a left-handed batter, but he did have eight walks in those situations.
Out of those four prospects, Snyder and Joseph have an opportunity to make the team with strong spring trainings because of their ability to play multiple positions. When it comes to non-roster contract, they are low-risk, high-reward deals. It will be interesting to watch this offseason who else the Nats give a non-roster invitee to spring training.