Minor League Signings Who Could Have a Major Impact in 2024

These veterans may have signed MiLB contracts or split deals, but they all have a path to MLB playing time for their respective clubs.

Carlos Carrasco of the Cleveland Indians pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at Progressive Field.
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 20: Carlos Carrasco #59 of the Cleveland Indians pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at Progressive Field on May 20, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)

Major league contracts come with guaranteed salaries. In other words, a player who inks an MLB deal is entitled to every penny he signed for, barring unforeseen extreme circumstances (e.g. the shortened 2020 season).

Minor league contracts, on the other hand, come with no such guarantee. Players on MiLB deals earn their MLB salary only for the days they spend on the roster, and their teams can cut them at any time with minimal financial consequences. Some non-guaranteed contracts become guaranteed once a player is placed on the big league roster, but even then, those players have little security until they make the cut.

Needless to say, minor league contracts are undesirable for players. No agents are out there hoping to secure a non-guaranteed salary for their clients.

Still, that’s not to say that talented players don’t end up signing MiLB deals. Indeed, this offseason has seen a high number of proven big league veterans forced to settle for non-guaranteed contracts. Here are just a few minor league signings who could still make a major league impact in 2024.

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Notable Minor League Signings: Position Players

Daniel Vogelbach, Toronto Blue Jays

2023 Stats: 104 games, 319 PA, 13 HR, 109 wRC+, 0.1 fWAR

The Blue Jays could use a left-handed masher to replace Brandon Belt, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Daniel Vogelbach ends up being that guy.

Vogelbach isn’t a full-time player, but the few things he does well, he does really well. Dating back to 2018, he has a 16.1% walk rate and a .217 isolated power against right-handed pitching. He’s a poor fielder, a poor baserunner, and a non-factor against southpaws. Regardless, he can be a useful part-time player for a team that can maximize his strengths and hide his flaws.

The only lefty batters who are locks to make Toronto’s Opening Day roster are Daulton Varsho, Kevin Kiermaier, and Cavan Biggio, none of whom is much of a threat with the stick. There’s a spot for Vogelbach on this team if he can beat out Joey Votto (and possibly Spencer Horwitz) to earn it.

Joey Votto, Toronto Blue Jays

2023 Stats: 65 games, 242 PA, 14 HR, 98 wRC+, 0.0 fWAR

Speaking of Joey Votto

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You might think the former MVP and six-time All-Star is washed up as he enters his age-40 season. And you might be right. Votto has a 95 wRC+ over the past two years. He also has reverse splits in that time, which means he’s been even worse against right-handed pitchers (87 wRC+). That won’t help him hold down a major league role, particularly with the Blue Jays.

That being said, Votto is a Canadian baseball icon, and it would mean so much to the Blue Jays, their fanbase, and Votto himself for him to play his final season in Toronto. Is that enough to warrant the Jays giving him a roster spot over a more deserving player? No, especially not when Toronto plays in such a competitive division.

Thus, all we can do is root for Votto to have a strong spring – and hopefully turn that strong spring into a Pujols-esque victory lap with his hometown team.

Eddie Rosario, Washington Nationals

2023 Stats: 142 games, 516 PA, 21 HR, 100 wRC+, 1.4 fWAR

Eddie Rosario is coming off his most productive season in years, so it’s a little surprising the 32-year-old outfielder had to settle for a minor league deal. However, the ZiPS and Steamer projections are both shockingly low on Rosario (0.1 and 0.0 projected fWAR, respectively), and it seems like teams around the league came to the same conclusion.

However, while Rosario is taking a pretty big pay cut this season, he still has a clear path to big league playing time with the Nationals. The Nats are low on MLB-caliber outfielders (and MLB-caliber players in general), and they could really use another hitter to put up above-average numbers against right-handed pitching. Rosario might just be that guy.

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And if he isn’t…

Jesse Winker, Washington Nationals

2023 Stats: 61 games, 197 PA, 1 HR, 65 wRC+, -0.8 fWAR

Jesse Winker will be in direct competition with Eddie Rosario for playing time on the Nationals. They’re both lefty-batting corner outfielders on minor league deals.

Unfortunately for Winker, he’s coming off a much worse season than Rosario. Indeed, he’s coming off the worst season of his career. His -0.8 fWAR in 2023 was one of the lowest marks in the National League.

On the bright side, Winker might have a little more upside than Rosario. Despite his dreadful performance at the plate in 2023, ZiPS and Steamer both see Winker putting up significantly better offensive numbers than Rosario in 2024. If that seems hard to believe, consider that Winker’s 121 career wRC+ is a higher number than Rosario has ever put up in a single season.

The Nationals will have room on the 26-man roster for both Winker and Rosario, but they only have one starting role up for grabs.

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Notable Minor League Signings: Pitchers

Jesse Chavez, Chicago White Sox

2023 Stats: 36 games, 34.2 IP, 1.56 ERA, 3.05 FIP, 0.7 fWAR

Jesse Chavez was likely forced to sign a minor league deal due to questions about his age and durability. That’s not exactly unreasonable. Entering his. age-40 season, the right-hander only pitched in 36 games last year. Still, when he took the mound, he was pretty darned effective.

Only four NL relievers (min. 30 IP) had a lower ERA than Chavez in 2023: Ryan Brasier, Brusdar Graterol, Josh Hader, and Devin Williams. His underlying numbers weren’t quite as impressive, but they were still well above average. Chavez posted a 3.05 FIP, 3.55 xERA, and 3.35 SIERA last season with the Braves.

Over the past three years, Chavez has a 2.81 ERA and 2.97 FIP over 126 games. At his age, things can fall apart quickly, but they certainly haven’t fallen apart yet.

Unless he has a terrible spring, Chavez should have a path to the White Sox Opening Day roster. Given his track record, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s one of their better relievers in 2024.

Naoyuki Uwasawa, Tampa Bay Rays

2023 Stats (NPB): 24 games, 170 IP, 2.96 ERA, 3.02 K/BB

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Naoyuki Uwasawa reportedly received MLB offers from other teams but chose to sign a split contract with Tampa Bay instead. In other words, he bet on himself, and he bet on the Rays coaching and development staff to help him become a better pitcher.

The former NPB pitcher wouldn’t have signed an MiLB deal if he didn’t think he could make his way to the majors with the Rays. And if there is anywhere a promising but flawed reliever can go to increase his stock, it’s Tampa Bay – just ask Robert Stephenson.

Daniel Hudson, Los Angeles Dodgers

2023 Stats: 3 games, 3 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2.92 FIP, 0.0 fWAR

Daniel Hudson may be 37 years old. He may have missed most of the 2022 and ’23 season with injury. Nevertheless, manager Dave Roberts told reporters in no uncertain terms that Hudson “will be in [the Dodgers] bullpen” at some point in 2024.

Does that mean the Dodgers are confident Hudson will return to peak form? Not necessarily. Across 79 innings from 2021 to ’23, Hudson pitched to a 2.85 ERA and 1.9 fWAR. That’s a high bar he set for himself.

Still, if the Dodgers trust Hudson to take on a big league role in 2024, who are the rest of us to doubt him?

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Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Guardians

2023 Stats: 20 games, 90 IP, 6.80 ERA, 5.86 FIP, -0.3 fWAR

After his poor performance in 2023, Carlos Carrasco can’t expect to play a meaningful role with the Guardians straight away. However, if he’s willing to take a long relief role at the bottom of the bullpen depth chart or bide his time at Triple-A, an opportunity could arise eventually.

Even in a down year, Carrasco made 20 starts and gave the Mets 90 innings in 2023. What’s more, he’s only a year removed from tossing 152 innings over 29 starts in 2022. Every team needs extra pitchers to get through the season – the Guardians used 14 different starters last year – and Carrasco, a 15-year MLB veteran, is more than just a live arm. If he’s patient, his time will come.

Update: With the news that Gavin Williams will start the season with a short stint on the injured list, Carrasco could see one or two spot starts to begin the year.

More Notable Players on Minor League Deals

Position Players

  • Mike Ford, 1B/DH
  • Elvis Andrus, SS
  • Kolten Wong, 2B
  • C.J. Cron, 1B
  • Tony Kemp, 2B/OF
  • Brian Anderson, 3B/OF
  • Garrett Cooper, 1B
  • Rafael Ortega, OF
  • Kevin Pillar, OF
  • Dominic Smith, 1B


  • Amir Garrett, LHP
  • Zach Davies, RHP
  • Eric Lauer, LHP
  • Yonny Chirinos, RHP
  • Brad Keller, RHP
  • Joely Rodríguez, LHP