Toronto Blue Jays Make Flurry of Moves to Set-Up 40-Man Roster

The Toronto Blue Jays Shake Up The Roster In Flurry of Monday Moves

 

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Prior to Monday night’s 8 PM EST deadline for the 40-man roster lock, the Blue Jays made a flurry of moves to shape the 2018 roster. There was a trade, a player lost to waivers and some designations, all potentially precursors to a potentially busy offseason for the Toronto Blue Jays.

 

The Trade

 

The biggest and most recent of moves on Monday was the trade for 2B Gift Ngoepe from the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash considerations. Usually a light-hitting glove first middle infield depth piece isn’t big news, but aside from a minimal statistical contribution, the 27-year old Gift Ngoepe has an interesting story behind him.

 

 

Ngoepe made his MLB debut this season after nine seasons with Pirates affiliates. When the South African did so, on April 26th – coincidentally on South Africa’s Freedom Day – he became the second player born in Africa to play in Major League Baseball, following Al Cabrera (Canary Islands), who debuted in 1913 with the St. Louis Cardinals.

 

Register Batting
Year Age Tm Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2015 25 2 Teams AA-AAA 92 351 307 36 79 16 2 3 26 4 8 30 81 .257 .333 .352 .685 108
2015 25 Indianapolis AAA 21 71 61 5 15 4 0 0 1 1 2 6 15 .246 .313 .311 .625 19
2015 25 Altoona AA 71 280 246 31 64 12 2 3 25 3 6 24 66 .260 .338 .362 .700 89
2016 26 Indianapolis AAA 102 373 332 40 72 20 1 8 27 5 2 31 130 .217 .289 .355 .644 118
2017 27 2 Teams AAA-A- 79 307 271 35 60 15 5 7 28 2 4 28 93 .221 .301 .391 .692 106
2017 27 PIT MLB 28 63 54 10 12 2 1 0 6 0 0 8 26 .222 .323 .296 .619 16
Year Age Tm Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
Mino Mino Mino Minors 768 3025 2603 349 601 118 33 43 225 90 59 317 824 .231 .320 .351 .671 914
AAA AAA AAA Minors 200 743 657 78 145 39 6 14 55 8 8 65 236 .221 .295 .362 .657 238
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/20/2017.

 

As you can probably deduce from his stats, Ngoepe isn’t much of a hitter. He’s only hit 43 HR over 768 games in the minor leagues, but he gets on base at a .300-.320 range and can play a variety of defensive positions, and do it quite well.  In 2017 he played 2B, SS and 3B for the Pirates and over 150 innings, made zero errors in 77 chances.

 

Register Fielding
Year Age Tm G GS CG Inn Ch PO A E DP Fld% RF/9 RF/G
2017 27 PIT 2B 20 10 110.1 64 27 37 0 9 1.000 5.22 3.20
2017 27 PIT 3B 3 1 14.2 1 0 1 0 0 1.000 0.61 0.33
2017 27 PIT SS 6 2 26.0 12 6 6 0 1 1.000 4.15 2.00
Year Age Tm G GS CG Inn Ch PO A E DP Fld% RF/9 RF/G
All All All SS 570 443 4673.0 2509 810 1627 72 311
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/20/2017.

 

At best, Ngoepe will fill out the final bench spot for the Blue Jays in 2018, and if he starts to hit a little bit, he might threaten Ryan Goins (should he be retained) for a backup role. Spending most of 2018 with the Buffalo Bisons of the International League sounds a bit more likely, though.

 

Blue Jays designate Chris Rowley for Assignment

The DFA of Chris Rowley came as a bit of a surprise, as it seemed more likely that Toronto would expose him to the Rule 5 Draft rather than outright him completely. Rowley, also 27, missed some significant development time due to a two-year stint in the United States Army. Despite playing very well at Double-A and Triple-A in 2017, Rowley was roughed up in just 18-plus MLB innings, giving up four HR, 14 runs and 10 walks in his limited debut.

 

With the late season emergence of Carlos Ramirez and Tom Koehler, there just wasn’t a role for Rowley to play. He’ll likely get picked up somewhere else pretty soon.

 

Blue Jays designate Harold Ramirez for Assignment

Harold Ramirez simply didn’t have a spot on this roster. There are still four outfielders currently on the MLB roster including Kevin Pillar, Teoscar Hernandez, Ezequiel Carrera and Steve Pearce. Beneath them, Anthony Alford, Dwight Smith Jr. and Ian Parmley would have likely seen time before Ramirez, who’s sputtered out at the Double-A level.

 

Register Batting
Year Age AgeDif Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG
2012 17 -2.7 Rk 39 146 135 18 35 5 1 1 12 9 5 6 20 .259 .310 .333
2013 18 -3.0 A- 71 310 274 42 78 11 4 5 40 23 11 23 52 .285 .354 .409
2014 19 -2.5 A 49 226 204 30 63 14 1 1 24 12 3 11 35 .309 .364 .402
2015 20 -2.7 A+ 80 344 306 45 103 13 6 4 47 22 15 25 48 .337 .399 .458
2016 21 -3.3 AA 99 419 383 60 119 17 7 2 50 7 10 22 66 .311 .360 .407
2016 21 -3.3 AA 98 414 379 58 116 16 7 2 49 7 10 21 66 .306 .354 .401
2016 21 -3.3 AA 1 5 4 2 3 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 .750 .800 1.000
2017 22 -2.2 AA 121 489 444 46 118 19 2 6 53 5 3 32 65 .266 .320 .358
Mino Mino Mino Minors 459 1934 1746 241 516 79 21 19 226 78 47 119 286 .296 .353 .397
All All All 474 1995 1799 248 529 80 21 20 231 78 48 120 297 .294 .350 .395
AA ( AA ( AA ( Minors 220 908 827 106 237 36 9 8 103 12 13 54 131 .287 .338 .381
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/20/2017.

 

His career .287/.338/.381 slash line thorough the minors is nice, but it’s a bit hollow. Aside from getting on base he does little else, striking only 19 HR in 1934 plate appearances. He used to steal bases in the Pirates organization – including 22 in 2015 – but he’s swiped just seven since. This was likely an easy decision for the club. Still only 23, he’s likely to get a chance pretty soon with another team, and don’t be too surprised if he’s eventually a solid major leaguer.

Cleveland Claims Rob Refsnyder

The lack of depth the Blue Jays, uh, featured up the middle dwindled a bit more with Cleveland claiming Rob Refsnyder off waivers.The move was probably a precursor to the Gift Ngoepe acquisition, as there’s no need for three light-hitting infielders on the bench.

 

Added to the 40-Man Roster

With all of the above subtractions, the Blue Jays needed to protect some of their young prospects from the Rule 5 Draft. Conner Green, lefty Thomas Pannone, catchers Reese McGuire and Danny Jansen were added, as well as 1B/DH Rowdy Tellez.

 

 

That’s about what was to be expected, but there were some omissions that may make Blue Jays fans watching the nest nervous:

 

 

Max Pentecost is the biggest name there, but as a catcher who is yet to play above High-A, it’s not likely a team will claim him and roster him for the entire season. Same goes for Jordan Romano, who had a breakout year in Dunedin, but probably isn’t that close to being ready to contribute at the MLB level.

 

On the other hand, someone might take a gamble on Andrew Case. He struggled a bit at Triple-A late in 2017, but made a mockery of Double-A, posting a 1.58 ERA over 40 innings there, striking out 23.

 

The Blue Jays roster currently sits at 39. There’s plenty of time for moves to be made, and what we see today on November 21st is probably not what we’ll see in April 2018. See something more in these moves? Leave a comment below.

 

 


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Roy’s earliest memories all involve baseball from the early 90’s and the Blue Jays dream teams. He became a Blue Jays fan while watching Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green evolve in Syracuse, NY at the run-down confines of MacArthur Stadium, nestled between highway and swamp. A lifelong baseball player, Roy still plays (P, C, 2B, 3B) in the 25+ Syracuse MSBL for the Liverpool Mets. He watches almost all games with his best buddy Sebastian, a five year old Pug, who could care less.

Roy-Z

Roy’s earliest memories all involve baseball from the early 90’s and the Blue Jays dream teams. He became a Blue Jays fan while watching Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green evolve in Syracuse, NY at the run-down confines of MacArthur Stadium, nestled between highway and swamp. A lifelong baseball player, Roy still plays (P, C, 2B, 3B) in the 25+ Syracuse MSBL for the Liverpool Mets. He watches almost all games with his best buddy Sebastian, a five year old Pug, who could care less.