Roster Madness! Blue Jays trade for Gift Ngoepe, Add 5 to 40-man Roster

Rowdy Tellez

Coming into Monday, the Blue Jays had 36 men on their 40-man, leaving only four spaces for them to add young players to their 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 draft. You can read about who we would protect barring any other moves here, but as the 8pm ET deadline to add players to the roster approached, the Blue Jays decided to shuffle things around even more.

 

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Chris Rowley

The first shoe to drop was when the Blue Jays announced that outfielder Harold Ramirez and pitcher Chris Rowley had been sent to the minors outright, opening up two more 40-man roster spots.

 

 

Then, we found out that the Cleveland Indians had claimed infielder Rob Refsnyder on waivers from the Blue Jays, bringing the number of players on the 40-man roster down to 33.

 

 

 

Then, there was a trade! The Jays sent cash or a player to be named later (PTBNL) to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Gift Ngoepe.

 

 

Ngoepe, a 28-year-old infielder from South Africa, became the first African-born player to play in the major leagues when he was promoted to the Pirates in April. Spotted by the Pirates at a MLB training camp in Italy in 2008, he was signed on a minor league deal with the Pirates and began his pro career playing in the GCL in 2009. He spent most of 2010 in the Short-Season-A New York-Penn League, hitting just .205/.315/.319 and never really did much with his bat, hitting a cumulative .231/.320/.351 over nine seasons in over 3000 plate appearances.

Ngoepe finally made the majors, playing 28 games with the Pirates, hitting .222/.323/.296 in 63 plate appearances and is still looking for his first big league home run (despite hitting two doubles and a triple. Ngoepe struck out in 41.3 of his plate appearances in the major league and, despite being able to take a walk at very high rates in the minors (and the majors), it’s not expected that he’s going to be a big contributor with the bat.

 

So who did the Blue Jays ultimately add to their 40-man roster?

 

Well, at 8:45 or so, the Jays finally announced the five players they added to the roster.

 

As expected, catcher Danny Jansen was added. With just one catcher on the 40-man roster beyond Russell Martin (that would be Luke Maile), it’s no surprise that the Blue Jays have added some catchers. Reese McGuire fits this bill as well, joining the 40-man and giving the Blue Jays four catchers on the roster.

 

Conner Greene

The Jays added two pitchers. Righty Conner Greene was almost a no-brainer, with a power arm and the potential for a team to keep him hidden in the bullpen for the year. Lefty Thomas Pannone offers the Jays a guy with the potential to be a back-end starter but who could also probably step into a bullpen to get lefties out this year.

The biggest surprise was the addition of Rowdy Tellez to the roster. I didn’t that that after his 2017 season, many teams would be looking for a slugging first baseman (no matter how young) from the left side of the plate who struggled in his exposure to Triple-A ball.

 

This brings the Blue Jays up to 39 men on the 40-man roster which gives them the flexibility to draft a player in the Rule 5 draft if they see someone worth taking.

Let us know your thoughts!

 

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  • Kris Shaw

    Tellez was a mistake I think, for exactly the reasons you state. Hard to imagine losing him if exposed. And I think the roster situation’s going to be really tight next year.

    There are now 13 players on the 40-man who should definitely start the year in AAA (or, at least, should not be projected for the opening day roster at this point):

    OF – Pompey, Alford, Smith Jr.
    IF – Gurriel, Urena
    1B – Tellez
    C – Jansen, McGuire
    SP – Borucki, Pannone, Guerrieri, Greene
    RP – Dermody

    Plus there are 4 players who are maybes:

    OF – Hernandez
    SP – Biagini (depends on their plans for him)
    RP – Dermody, Ramirez

    But we still need to add an “impact bat” and an “impact arm”. Which means one of the above-mentioned players needs to go (Smith? Dermody? Guerrieri).

    The likes of Goins, Carrera, Ngoepe, Maile, Koehler, and Loup can also be cut loose, and I’m sure some will, but this will happen to make room for any bench-type players the team might add.

    If the Jays run into injury trouble like in 2017, they are going to be hard-pressed to manage that roster. There just aren’t a lot of players in the above-mentioned group who seem ready for an up-and-down role. Maybe by mid-season, but April-June could be a bit hairy.

  • Kris Shaw

    Compare this to last year when we started the season with several experienced yet option-able guys for the bullpen, viz., Tepera, Leone, Campos, Barnes.