Remembering Recent Non-Roster Invitees Who Have Made the St. Louis Cardinals’ Opening Day Roster

Scott Rovak- USA TODAY Sports
Scott Rovak- USA TODAY Sports /
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Carlos Peguero St. Louis Cardinals
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Non-roster invitees can be a major point of discussion during any spring training. We remember the ones who have made the St. Louis Cardinals’ roster in recent years.

In addition to the 40 players on every MLB club that are automatically invited to major-league spring training by way of their roster status, each club is also permitted to invite as many minor-league players as they so desire to big-league camp, which gives them an opportunity to evaluate potential future contributors. In some cases, though, the players who show up at spring training on minor-league deals are established major-leaguers who are being given a chance to earn spots on MLB clubs, all the while lessening the risk for the team by way of their non-guaranteed salaries and because they don’t take up 40-man roster spots.

Seeing as most veteran players see limited action during the early part of the spring schedule (especially in Florida, where managers often excuse their established players from tedious multi-hour road trips), these non-roster players are often the most common subject of discussion for avid baseball fans during the early days of March.

Since Mike Matheny took over as manager in 2012, the Cardinals have yet to bring a position player north who began spring training as a non-roster invitee (and for that matter, haven’t done so since three non-roster players made the Opening Day roster in 2009), but a relief pitcher has made the club as a NRI in three of Matheny’s four seasons as manager. That’s unlikely to occur in 2016, as the Cardinals are stacked with pitching on the 40-man roster and will struggle to make cuts in the bullpen.

The long drought for non-roster position players could end this spring, though, as outfielder Carlos Peguero appears to be pushing for a spot on the Opening Day roster. Peguero, a veteran of 103 major-league games, is hitting .455 with a 1.227 OPS this spring, and with an extra bench spot up for grabs as a result of Jhonny Peralta’s injury, he definitely has a shot to latch on. In addition, catcher Eric Fryer could be a candidate to make the club if anything goes wrong with Yadier Molina’s recovery from two offseason thumb surgeries.

To show exactly how non-roster invitees can impact a major-league club, we’ll highlight all of the 11 NRIs who have made the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster over the past 10 seasons. We’ll start with a reliever who made major contributions to a Cardinals team that broke a 24-year World Series championship drought:

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