The term "minor league contract" casts a pretty wide net. For guys like Geovany Soto, it's a temporary placeholder for a major league role. For somebody like Matt Albers, it's a hedge against an injury. For a player like Andy LaRoche, it's a job at Triple-A with a sliver of hope. In cases like Brian Anderson, it's a favor more than anything else. And then there's Christian Marrero, who doesn't want the Reading Room to die.
We can draw decent determinations about the intent behind the decisions, as well as potential inferences of opt-outs or other small perks, but the addition of a spring-training invitation or a dollar figure for making the club is the only way to technically tell them apart from our distance.
That's why this column about minor league contracts by C.J. Nitkowski on FoxSports.com is so valuable, because he went through the process in five straight seasons. There's a lot for the player to consider -- and because agents only make commission on deals over the league minimum, the players have to be prepared to drive the process.
Here's a sample, but read the whole thing:
Another big piece of the puzzle is the reputation of the front office. I had a veteran player tell me one time that there were certain teams he would never sign a minor-league deal with a certain organization because of the general manager's reputation of not being trustworthy. Players talk and share information. It's important to know which teams you can trust and which you can't. I remember specifically telling another pitcher two years in a row to stay from two different GMs as a non-roster invitee. Both years he ignored my advice. Both years I got calls from him in June complaining to me how he'd been lied to and was trapped in a system wasting away. I tried to warn him.
That trust is important in these situations because promises are made to non-roster invitees. "We have a spot for you" ... "You'll make our team but we can't put you on the 40-man roster until spring training ends" ... "If you don't make our team, we'll let you go to another." All of that sounds great, but if none of that is in writing the words are only as good as the GM's reputation.
These days, if you're not early to spring training, you're late. Dan Hayes says nearly 30 players have reported to Camelback Ranch already. Besides Arizona residents like Adam Eaton and Jeff Samardzija, others like Jose Abreu, Carlos Rodon and Jesse Crain are already settled.
The group also includes Micah Johnson, Tyler Saladino, Courtney Hawkins, Jared Mitchell, Keenyn Walker, Tyler Flowers, Rob Brantly, Avisail Garcia, Carlos Sanchez, Brian Anderson and Hector Noesi among others, Thomas said.
The key to their early arrival is Thomas can help players finish their offseason-conditioning program.
"It’s a big advantage," Thomas said. "It’s good for them to be out here and for me to give them the attention they need. I commend these guys and they’re doing that on their own."
As a way of trying to settle the World Series Game 7 debate, the Kansas City Star had players from Division II Rockhurst College recreate the play and send "Alex Gordon" home. It's not a perfect simulation -- the baserunner is fresh, and the shortstop doesn't have Brandon Crawford's arm -- but even with favorable conditions for the Royals, even imperfect throws were plenty good enough to get the runner at the plate.
Just because everybody loves a dose of New York myopia, the only White Sox employee to count as one of the "50 most fascinating figures in baseball" is ... Robin Ventura.
Wendell Kim's life had a rough start in East Los Angeles. It had a rougher end, as he died on Sunday (no official cause was given, but he had been battling Alzheimer's). So getting criticized for being too aggressive as a third-base coach is probably nothing in the long run.
And to bring it back full circle, Cy Chen lurks.
Bruce Chen agrees to minors deal with Indians. $1M base, plus $1M performance bonuses— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) February 17, 2015