February 27, 2013
Notable NL Minor-League Free Agent Signees
It’s that time of year: Grapefruit and Cactus. (I feel a margarita-like cocktail coming on.) It’s the one time of the season when ballplayers wear jersey numbers like 75. When millionaires of otherwise upright goodwill and equanimity secretly hope for other millionaires to get hurt. When major-league camp invitations go out to players like the legendary Craig Albernaz, who has played in parts of the last six seasons for the Rays’ Double-A affiliate and has a career OPS of .545—somebody has to catch all those pitchers. When former big-league regulars, now on minor-league deals and looking around at all the prospects who play the same position, start counting the days until the opt-out clauses in their contracts arrive.
In other words, it’s time to sift through those minor-league free agent signees and find the one in each organization likeliest to make an impact in the majors this season.
Here is how this very complex science works. First, minor-league free agents who were re-signed by the same clubs they played for in 2012 were ineligible, because what fun is a recidivist? Only fresh blood qualified, at least partially because there is something to be said for the change-of-scenery recharge that sometimes gives fringe players that extra, ineffable thing they need in order to stick in the bigs. Second, I looked at a list of minor-league free agents and sorted them by where they signed, thus creating a nice little pool for each team (or in the case of the Toronto Blue Jays, a large pool). Third, I studied Jason Martinez’s Depth Charts to see where each team looked like it might be thin. Fourth, I looked at MLB’s depth chart pages, too, in case I missed anything. Then I ran searches on Scott Podsednik, Darnell McDonald, and Steve Pearce.
Then I said to hell with it and chose either a Triple-A catcher or righty reliever.
Okay, not quite, but I did choose a lot of catchers and righty relievers, for the obvious reason that you need them more than you tend to need any other players. (As one Triple-A manager put it last year, “Catchers get hurt all the time.”) For two teams I chose two players, and that’s because for two teams I actually chose zero. And I chose Cody Ransom for sentimental reasons. See below.
National League today; American League next time.