The Los Angeles Dodgers added another player to the competition for a position that might not even exist on Monday when they signed veteran infielder Aaron Miles to a minor league contract and invited him to major league spring training.
Miles, 34, will compete with fellow non-roster invitee Juan Castro and longtime prospect Ivan De Jesus Jr. for a second utility infield spot. But the Dodgers have so many outfielders signed to major league contracts that there may be room for only five pure infielders on the opening-day roster -- the four starters plus utility man Jamey Carroll.
Even if he doesn't make the club, though, Miles could provide organizational depth if he is willing to accept an assignment to Triple-A Albuquerque. Last season, after being released at the end of spring training by the Cincinnati Reds, Miles signed a minor league deal with the St. Louis Cardinals in late April, spent a month at Double-A Springfield putting up solid offensive numbers -- a .279 average and a .362 on-base percentage -- then was called up on June 1 and spent the rest of the season in the majors, hitting .281.
Miles has spent eight seasons in the majors, including the past seven in the National League, and has hit .282 with a .321 OBP. He has little power, hitting a career-high six home runs for the Colorado Rockies in 2004 when he also amassed a career-high 566 plate appearances and finished fourth in N.L. Rookie of the Year voting.
Miles can play second, third and shortstop.
In addition to center fielder Matt Kemp and right fielder Andre Ethier, the Dodgers also have Tony Gwynn Jr., Marcus Thames and Jay Gibbons under contract, and longtime prospect Xavier Paul is out of minor league options. Both Thames and Gibbons can play first base, so the Dodgers will have to decide if they can stomach the thought of at least starting the season with Carroll as their only backup at the other three spots.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.