Jackson, Montero on list of non-roster invitees
BY TODD DYBAS | FEBRUARY 18, 2018
Best case, the non-roster invitee list exists for emergency purposes. It’s not there to pick starters, or even large contributors, from. It’s a list of players who will be at spring training as reclamation projects, new test-cases or just because a body is needed.
The Nationals’ list, announced Tuesday, has a trio of outsiders that could make the 25-man roster. Starter Edwin Jackson is back and could become the Nationals’ long man. Former Chicago Cubs catcher Miguel Montero was a surprise and late add to the roster, reuniting him with new manager Davey Martinez, who dealt with Montero’s skills and warts in Chicago. Veteran infielder Reid Brignac is an extra layer of insurance.
Mid-February bettors would be wise to put their money on A.J. Cole for the fifth rotation spot. He’s out of options. Cole also pitched better last season than he has in any pro season. Mixing those factors gives the affable Jackson a shot at hanging around as the long man through the season, filling one of the few bullpen spots still open.
Montero’s entrance into the Nationals’ clubhouse shows what Martinez thinks of him. He was present when Montero was jettisoned from the Cubs after publicly criticizing Jake Arrieta for a slow delivery to the plate the day seven baserunners stole against the unit. Those seven baserunners were racking up stolen bases for the Nationals.
Montero is a two-time All-Star who can hit well from the left side. His throwing ability is poor. His pitch-frame ability is good. He could well end up the backup catcher.
Brignac is 32 years old, has played nine seasons and would likely be in another camp if it was not for Daniel Murphy’s offseason knee surgery. Internally, the Nationals believe Murphy is on a path to be ready for Opening Day on March 29 in Cincinnati. If not, that would bump Wilmer Difo from his utility bench spot to the field and possibly Brignac to the bench as a stopgap until Murphy was ready.
Other recognizable names on the list: Bryce Harper’s brother, Brian, a relief pitcher who had Tommy John surgery last season; veteran reliever Tim Collins who had back-to-back Tommy John surgeries in 2015 and 2016; outfielder Ryan Raburn, who was with the major-league club for 14 starts last season, and pitcher Tommy Milone, who was drafted by the Nationals in 2008. Take a look now, because most will be gone soon.
The full list: