The Seattle Mariners announced their list of 26 non-roster invitees for their 2021 MLB spring training. The full list is a blend of top prospects, longtime M’s farmhands in the high minors, and minor league free agents. As a reminder, non-roster invitees (NRIs) are explicitly players not on the club’s 40-man roster. All 40-man roster players are guaranteed invitations to big league camp barring extenuating circumstances.
Here's the list of non-rostered invites to Mariners' MLB spring training ... pic.twitter.com/Rp3FrBdWyB— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) January 28, 2021
We’ve put together a list tracking the Mariners minor league signings already, so several of these names may look familiar, but if you haven’t seen it, you can check that out here.
Every new signee is already written up there, so if you’re curious about new names like RHP Moises Gomez, 3B/INF Jantzen Witte, or 1B/OF Dillon Thomas I recommend clicking through there for a quick blurb on each player.
A few names might be more recognizable, of course. OFs Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodríguez received invitations, as did RHP Logan Gilbert and Cs Cal Raleigh and Carter Bins. Those five are the highest profile true prospects in the group, and their invitation should be no surprise, even as Rodríguez will be the only player in camp whose birth year starts with a 2.
This year’s MLB spring training, assuming it begins as normal, will see MLB and likely AAA players appearing first, with lower minors players arriving on a delay as teams seek to mitigate having a crush of people occupying the same spaces while attempting to train and avoid spreading COVID-19. Consequently, lower minor league levels are likely to start their seasons at somewhat of a delay, and relatedly, the Mariners have chosen to focus their NRI list on older players likely to either appear on the big league club or in Tacoma at the season’s outset. As a result, players who might have seen invites like RHP George Kirby or Noelvi Marte will instead get a later start, as they should be expected to start in High-A and Low-A respectively.
That includes a few familiar faces! OF/1B Eric Filia, OF Luis Liberato, INF Jordan Cowan, C Brian O’Keefe, and RHPs Nick Duron and Darren McCaughan will once again be in Peoria for big league camp. A number of recent big league pitchers for Seattle also will return, having either been designated for assignment and been unclaimed or re-signing intentionally on a minor league deal. That includes, well, most of the remaining pitchers. Gerson Bautista, Roenis Elías, Brady Lail, Matt Magill, and Jimmy Yacabonis have recently appeared in Northwest Green, while Ian McKinney re-signed after topping out in AA-Arkansas in 2019.
The invitation to big league camp is a significant boon for minor leaguers, as not only does it mean increased visibility in playing in front of the top coaches and front office members, but it means they are paid beyond their per diem (and the per diem is higher) for being there. While that is less consequential for some former big league vets or youngsters with six or seven figure signing bonuses, many of the 26 above have neither cracked MLB nor signed for significant cash. Congratulations to all 26, and hopefully we can see them safely get out on the field soon.