What is an MLB Non-Roster Invitee

What is an MLB Non-Roster Invitee
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You may have heard the term NRI or “non-roster invitee” previously, but what exactly is an MLB “non-roster invitee?” As Spring Training heads into its second full week, we see players listed on rosters with that title. These are players invited to compete for a position on the team during Spring Training. Coaches will be evaluating to see if any of these NRIs can or will make the team.

MLB’s Definition of Non-Roster Invitee

From mlb.com: A non-roster invite (NRI) is an invitation for a player who is not on a club’s 40-man roster to attend Major League camp in Spring Training and compete for a roster spot. Clubs can extend NRIs to their upper-level Minor Leaguers and also include NRIs in Minor League contracts given to free agents in the offseason.

What does it Mean

Each year, MLB teams spend their off-seasons making trades and signing players to fill up their 40-man rosters. Players can then be added to the team by signing them to minor league contracts and then inviting them to participate in Spring Training. They are then given the opportunity to compete for a spot on a team’s Opening Day roster. However, they don’t take up a spot on the 40-man roster during Spring Training. It allows teams to head into Spring Training with a full team along with prospects that can be evaluated in a big-league setting.

Who Are These Players

Just who are these players? All 30 major league clubs announce their non-roster invitees NRI’s to spring training. They’re a mix of prospect and veteran players looking to make a team. Some are “journeymen,” veterans looking for new opportunities. Others are looking for a couple more years of service, maybe as a utility player. There are starting pitchers looking to become relievers to extend their careers. Yet others are guys bouncing back from injury. There are even guys who have had a “couple of cups of coffee” in the majors, but find themselves stuck in MiLB.

Also, all teams extend an invite to their top prospects as non-roster players. They are not necessarily expected to make the big-league roster, but are there to gain experience and pick up a few tips from the players on the roster. While it would be great to make the team, they’re looking to benefit from some valuable time with the coaching, and even the training staff at the big-league level.

Non-Roster Invitees Have Had Some Success in MLB

Although it is uncommon, once in a while a non-roster invitee will make the Opening Day roster. Justin Turner was granted free agency by the New York Mets after the 2013 season. He was then signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers as an NRI when spring training started in 2014. He made the team, and was a mainstay in their lineup for nine years.

Hunter Pence was an NRI in 2019 for the Texas Rangers, made the team out of camp, and was the starting DH for the American League All-Star Game. He ended the season with 286 at-bats, posting a .297 average with 18 home runs, and 59 RBI.

There’s Always a Chance

There’s a chance for some 2023 NRIs. Many teams have brought in some players who could make their teams. The following players are non-roster invitees this spring:

During Spring Training

As you follow your favorite team during spring training, take a look at the veterans and prospects brought in as NRIs. While very few do find success, being an NRI still provides aspiration and hopefulness for many players trying to stay in or make it to the big leagues. Who knows, there could be a spot on another team’s roster for them.

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James Marshall

James Marshall

Jim Marshall has lived in Phoenix, AZ for 50 years. He is an avid baseball fan, but enjoys all of Arizona's local sports teams, including Diamondbacks, Suns, Cardinals and Coyotes. In addition to the four major sports, he closely follows the Phoenix Mercury, Arizona Rattlers and Arizona State Sun Devils. Jim's passion for baseball continues beyond the field as he is an avid collector of baseball memorabilia. His favorite athlete of all time is Baseball Hall of Fame member Harmon Killebrew. In addition to watching, reading and talking about sports, he takes time to travel and appreciate the great state of Arizona with his lovely wife, Patti.

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