Every box score from a spring training game will be filled with an eclectic mix of players. There will be plenty of regulars and players guaranteed to be in the majors when the regular season comes around. Some in the lineup will be prospects, either highly rated ones or those that will be end up being filler in Double- or Triple-A.
There’s also a third group. Players with prior major league experience who are in camp on a non-roster invite. Seven players with previous major league experience went to spring training with the Yankees on non-roster invites in 2018. Some went to Tampa knowing they were likely headed to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre or somewhere else in the minors as depth. Others were trying to make the team in a bench role. None of them finished the season in pinstripes.
Three of those seven did play games for the Yankees last year. Jace Peterson got a brief cup of coffee early due to some outfield injures. After three games, he ended up back in the minors. Baltimore picked him up and he finished the season with them. He only played three fewer games for the Orioles in 2018 than Manny Machado did, which says a lot about the Orioles’ season. Another was Shane Robinson, whose contributions last year I assume we all remember.
The third to actually play for the Yankees was David Hale. His 12 months since last year’s spring training were quite eventful, however. He was called up to the majors on April 22nd and then picked up off waivers by the Twins four days later. He pitched just one game for Minnesota, was designated for assignment, signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees, pitched one game, was DFA’d, signed to another minor-league deal, pitched in one game, and was DFA’d again. Hale finished the season playing in Korea. He may end up on this list again next year as in January; he recently signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees.
Two other players from this list played a major league game last year, but did not do so in New York. After his very brief stint with the Yankees in 2017, Erik Kratz signed a minor-league deal to remain with the team in 2018. He didn’t make the team out of spring training, and went to Triple-A. A month into the season, the Brewers picked him up, and he became an improbable playoff hero there. His 1.375 OPS helped Milwaukee to a win against the Rockies in the NLDS.
Wade LeBlanc also went from unwanted by the Yankees to having some amount of success in the majors. LeBlanc went to spring training with the Yankees, but was released on March 22nd. Shortly after that, the Mariners picked him up and he ended up breaking camp with Seattle. After a couple bullpen appearances, LeBlanc ended up in the Mariners’ rotation and stayed there for the rest of the season. He finished 2018 with his best numbers in years and a major-league contract with Seattle for 2019.
Now, for the two you probably completely forgot about. With Greg Bird coming off an injury and Luke Voit not even in the picture yet, Adam Lind was brought in as an insurance policy for the Yankees at first base. When the Yankees picked up Neil Walker, Lind was released. However, a month later, he came back to the team on a minor-league deal, and played for both Tampa and Scranton. That wouldn’t last, and the Yankees released him in May. Lind then became a trader, and signed a minor-league deal with the Red Sox. He didn’t last the season there either and was released in August.
The last one was Danny Espinosa. The longtime Nationals infielder signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees in late January, which would have been pre-Walker, pre-Gleyber Torres/Miguel Andujar call ups. At that point, Brandon Drury was pretty much locked into an infield spot. Espinosa was almost certainly given a deal just to see if he had anything to offer. He then hit .160/.276/.320 in spring training. He was another that was ditched when Walker showed up. He immediately went to Toronto’s camp but wouldn’t last the season their either. He spent time in the minors with the Dodgers and Phillies before finishing up the 2018 season in the Mexican League. At least to start 2019, it’s the Mets who will give him a shot this spring.
Who will be the 2019 version of these players? Rex Brothers, look out.