Dodgers bolster infield depth, claim Carlos Triunfel off waivers.

Carlos Triunfel

The Dodgers claimed Carlos Triunfel off waivers and assigned him to Triple-A Albuquerque. (Tacoma News-Tribune)

The Dodgers claimed infielder Carlos Triunfel on outright waivers from Seattle, added him to the 40-man roster and optioned him to Triple-A Albuquerque.

The 24-year-old Triunfel spent 2013 splitting time between the Mariners and Triple-A Tacoma in Seattle’s organization. An athletic infielder with a strong arm, Triunfel has shown the versatility to play shortstop, second base and third base and has played all three positions in both the Majors and minors.

In his seven minor league seasons, Triunfel has posted a .276 batting average. Last year at Triple-A Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League, he batted .282/.328/.394 with 30 extra-base hits among 108 total.

In 27 major-league games, all with the Mariners, Triunfel has a 11 hits in 66 at-bats (.167). He also batted .167 in eight Cactus League games.

The Dodgers now have 40 players on their 40-man roster.
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Dodgers tie Oakland, trim camp roster by five.

Matt Magill

Pitcher Matt Magill was optioned to the minors on Monday, one of five players cut from the Dodgers’ major-league camp roster. (Associated Press photo)

The Dodgers trimmed their camp roster by five after tying the Oakland A’s on Monday.

There were no surprises on the list: Pitcher Matt Magill was optioned to the minor-league side, and non-roster invitees J.C. Boscan, Carlos Frias, Brendan Harris and Clint Robinson were reassigned to the minor-league side.

Magill, the only player of the group on the 40-man roster, pitched 5 ⅔ innings, allowing three hits, one run, walking two and striking out six. The only run came on a solo home run March 5 by Cincinnati Reds prospect Neftali Soto. Magill, a 24-year-old right-hander from Simi Valley, was not a candidate to make the major-league rotation.

Of the four non-roster invitees, Harris had the most realistic chance of earning a major-league roster spot, if only because of the Dodgers’ needs on the bench and at second base. He needed a good camp to prove that he was not the same player who registered -2.3 WAR (baseball-reference.com version) since 2009. Harris didn’t have a good camp. He batted 3 for 19 (.158) with three walks.

Boscan, a 34-year-old catcher with 30 major-league plate appearances to his credit, went 1 for 4 with a pair of walks.

Frias made four Cactus League appearances and allowed five runs, including three Monday without recording an out in the Dodgers’ 8-8 tie. The 24-year-old right-hander advanced as high as Double-A last year and could earn a promotion to Triple-A at some point this season.

The 29-year-old Robinson showed why the Dodgers signed him to a minor-league deal in the off-season, batting .348 (11 for 23) with a solo home run. Robinson batted .292 at Triple-A Omaha last year and is expected to start at first base this year for Triple-A Albuquerque.

The Dodgers have 41 players on their camp roster, not including pitcher Scott Elbert (on the 60-day disabled list) and infielder Erisbel Arruebarruena, who is still awaiting his U.S. work visa. The roster must be down to 28 — 25 players who are eligible to play the two games in Sydney, Australia, plus another three designated as inactive — by 7 p.m. March 21.

Dodgers’ intrasquad game is in the books; Dee Gordon, Hanley Ramirez make some noise.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Hyun-Jin Ryu allowed home runs to Dee Gordon and Hanley Ramirez in the first inning of the Dodgers’ intrasquad game on Sunday. (Associated Press photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Dee Gordon and Hanley Ramirez hit home runs against Hyun-Jin Ryu in the first inning of the Dodgers’ 4-inning intrasquad game Sunday at Camelback Ranch. Those accounted for all the runs in a 3-1 victory for Team Wills (drafted by Matt Kemp) over Team Koufax (drafted by Zack Greinke.)
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Daily Distractions: Which non-roster invitees have a chance at making the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster?

Clint Robinson

Who is non-roster invitee Clint Robinson, and does he have a chance of making the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster? (Answer: Not really) (Getty Images)

With the addition of Justin Turner on Wednesday, the Dodgers have extended spring training invitations to 17 non-roster players:

Infielders: Turner, Chone Figgins, Miguel Rojas, Brendan Harris, Clint Robinson
Outfielder: Joc Pederson
Catchers: JC Boscan, Griff Erickson, Chris O’Brien, Miguel Olivo
Pitchers: Sam Demel, Carlos Frias, Zach Lee, Daniel Moskos, Red Patterson, Chris Reed, Ross Stripling

Two years ago, Jamey Wright made the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster out of camp as an NRI. Last year, no non-roster invitees made the roster — though you figure Kevin Gregg was close. The Dodgers’ surplus of starting pitchers squeezed Gregg out of a job in Los Angeles, and he eventually became the Chicago Cubs’ closer.

So recent history says that the 17 NRIs are competing for one job at most. Not all have a realistic chance of making the team. In most cases, injuries will dictate the winner of the logjam. That’s particularly true for Pederson, the catchers and the pitchers.

The Dodgers are carrying four outfielders (Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig) with large guaranteed contracts. The fifth is Scott Van Slyke, who has value as a corner outfielder/first baseman with power off the bench. Pederson, who turns 22 on April 21, can turn heads in camp if his .912 OPS in the Venezuelan Winter League was no fluke, but that might be all he can do. There’s no job for him without another significant injury hitting the outfield — and remember that Kemp still isn’t running on his surgically repaired ankle.

Among the catchers, all A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz need to do to reprise their 2013 Opening Day jobs is stay healthy. Olivo, who’s played in more than 1,100 major-league games since 2002, knew that when he signed with the Dodgers on Jan. 17. He’ll try to push Drew Butera for the primary catcher’s job at Triple-A Albuquerque.

The pitching staff is also surprisingly stacked with veterans who are difficult to displace. Lee, Stripling, Reed, Patterson and Frias are competing to make an impression and learn the ropes in their first camp, not land an Opening Day job. Demel and Moskos have major-league experience but are slotted for roles in the Albuquerque bullpen and rotation, respectively.

So that leaves us with the infielders. Second base is an open competition until Alex Guerrero learns the position defensively. Until we see him in camp, it’ll be hard to pin down Guerrero’s learning curve. Other than starting third baseman Juan Uribe, and light-hitting utilityman Justin Sellers, Dee Gordon is the only player on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster with experience at second base. He only learned the position last year. There’s a reasonably wide opening here.

Rojas will go as far as his bat will take him – historically, he’s struggled to hit at the Triple-A level.

The same goes for Figgins, whose 68 OPS+ the last three seasons isn’t enough to justify a 40-man roster spot. Figgins will have to prove in camp that his bat speed at age 36 is as major-league ready as his foot speed and defensive versatility — he’s played 647 career games at third base, 274 at second and 27 at shortstop. No other player in camp is quite as versatile, and the longtime leadoff hitter will help his cause if he can steal a base.

In some ways, the 33-year-old Harris is a slower version of Figgins. He’s able to play third base, shortstop and second base, and carries a light bat (.695 career OPS).

Robinson is a 28-year-old first baseman whose career consists of 3,337 at-bats in the minors and four in the majors. With at least two first basemen ahead of him on the depth chart in camp, Robinson’s chances of getting a major league at-bat this season range from slim to none.

Turner is an above-average fielding second baseman and has been for parts of five major-league seasons. What really makes him stand out in this group is his track record at the plate. Turner is the definition of an average hitter, as a 100 OPS+ and 0.9 oWAR last season attest. Baseball-reference.com’s version of oWAR rated Turner a 1.6 in 2011, his only full major-league season.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and general manager Ned Colletti have agreed that second base can be a defensive position in 2014. But if they want to give the second-base job on Opening Day to an above-average fielder and an average hitter, Turner might be the only man in camp who fits that description.

Some bullet points for a Ronald Reagan Day:
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Dodgers sign Justin Turner to a minor-league contract.

Justin Turner Dodgers

Long Beach native Justin Turner batted .280/.319/.385 in a utility role last season for the New York Mets. (Getty Images)

The Dodgers added to their weakest area Wednesday by signing infielder Justin Turner to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Turner, 29, batted .280 with two home runs and 16 RBIs in 86 games with the Mets last season. He appeared in games at all four infield positions and one in left field.

The former Mayfair High and Cal State Fullerton standout has a .260 batting average with eight homers and 89 RBIs in 318 games over five seasons.

Turner figures to compete with Dee Gordon and non-roster invitees Chone Figgins, Brendan Harris and Miguel Rojas for backup roles. If Alex Guerrero fails to impress in his first major-league spring training, all four players could vie for the Opening Day second baseman job.

The Dodgers’ infield depth plummeted when Mark Ellis, Skip Schumaker and Nick Punto signed elsewhere in the offseason and Jerry Hairston Jr. retired.

Report: Mark Ellis signs with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Mark Ellis

Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis dives for a ground ball in a June game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He reportedly agreed to a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday. (Associated Press photo)

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to sign Mark Ellis, pending a physical.

Ellis started 206 games for the Dodgers over the last two seasons, batting .264/.328/.357 and finishing in the top five in the National League in fielding percentage at second base both years.

In 2013, Ellis batted .270/.323/.351 with six home runs and 48 RBIs in 126 games. He batted .250 (10 for 40) in the playoffs.

Ellis’ departure came as little surprise after the Dodgers signed free agent infielder Alexander Guerrero to a four-year, $28 million contract in October. Guerrero might not be ready to be the Dodgers’ everyday second baseman at the beginning of next season, but such a long-term commitment left little room for Ellis in the Dodgers’ infield the next four years — particularly after the Dodgers locked up third baseman Juan Uribe on Saturday.

Though Ellis’ offense can be replaced, the Dodgers will undoubtedly miss his defense. Ellis ranks fourth all-time in UZR/150 among major-league second baseman who have played at least 4,000 innings. He is second all-time in total defensive runs saved and UZR.

Ellis’ humble persona also played well in a full clubhouse of superstars.

Since the Dodgers have no real insurance if Guerrero falters, a veteran with major-league experience at second base becomes high on their off-season wish list. Brendan Harris, who signed a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training Nov. 18, could also figure into the major-league team’s plans.