According to Jon Paul Morosi via MLB Trade Rumors, the Dodgers are close to signing 30-year-old lefty reliever Wil Ledezma to a minor-league contract. This is relevant less because of anything Ledezma is likely to bring and more because it’s clear by the reaction I’m seeing on Twitter and message boards that it’s time for our annual clarification of how off-season minor-league contracts work, given that Ledezma is the Dodgers first such acquisition this winter.
I say that because Ledezma is exactly the kind of fungible veteran pitcher who picks up minor-league deals, like Mike MacDougal & others did last year. Ledezma has seen big-league time in parts of nine seasons for seven clubs, a notable achievement considering that he spent the first four-and-a-half years solely with Detroit. Three of those teams wouldn’t allow him to pitch more than five games for their club; in 2011, he was terrible in five games for the Jays while spending most of the season racking up strikeouts for Triple-A Las Vegas.
He’s not, you know, good, but he’s a lefty with big-league experience, so he’ll bounce around forever, and that’s sort of the point. Every year, every team hands out something like ten non-roster invites to Quad-A types who aren’t good enough to get guaranteed deals. Sometimes you’ll get mildly useful surprises like MacDougal or Dana Eveland, and sometimes you’ll get total disasters who don’t last long like Lance Cormier or Russ Ortiz; far more often you’ll never remember that the invite even happened, like Oscar Villareal, Gabe Kapler, Brian Giles, or Timo Perez, all of whom were in Dodger camp on minor-league deals in recent years.
Since the cost is almost always minimal and the commitment even less than that, there’s absolutely no risk to the team to bring these guys on. I note them here because this is a team-specific blog and I don’t like to let any news go uncommented on, but they’re generally unimportant and certainly not worth complaining that “Ned Colletti screwed up again”. So unless Eugenio Velez somehow comes back, there’s absolutely no need to start getting worked up about these kind of moves. Of course minor-league deals are going to be for players with massive flaws. If they didn’t have such blemishes, then they’d be able to get a guaranteed deal, right? Besides, Colletti makes enough questionable moves that we hardly need to drum up any more anguish just for the sake of it.
Still, I feel like I’ll need to link back to this each and every time a new minor-league deal is handed out.
Update: And here’s another one. Roberto Baly of Vin Scully is my Homeboy passes along an Australian report that indicates righty reliever Shane Lindsay, 27 in January, has also signed a minor-league deal with the Dodgers that includes an invite to spring training. He’s been kicking around the minors for seven years with three organizations, finally making his MLB debut with four games for the White Sox in 2011. Lindsay racks up big strikeout numbers (498 in 366.1 MiLB innings), but like so many other Quad-A types, pairs it with huge control issues (6.8 BB/9). He’ll enjoy Albuquerque.