The Toronto Blue Jays Shake Up The Roster In Flurry of Monday Moves
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.
#BlueJays announce they acquired IF Gift Ngoepe from the Pirates for cash considerations.
— Gregor Chisholm (@gregorMLB) November 20, 2017
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 (En-go-pay, as per @Joyfc) has looked good in limited time at the MLB level. Upgrade over Refsnyder and is a cheap IF with options. Great pickup. Plus having the first South African MLB player is pretty neat. #BlueJays https://t.co/A1mdp7syyJ
— Ryan Andrews 📎 (@NeoAC18) November 20, 2017
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.
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.
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.
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.
|AA (||AA (||AA (||Minors||220||908||827||106||237||36||9||8||103||12||13||54||131||.287||.338||.381|
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.
The following players have been selected to our 40-man roster:
🔵 RHP Conner Greene
🔵 LHP Thomas Pannone
🔵 C Reese McGuire
🔵 C Danny Jansen
🔵 1B Rowdy Tellez pic.twitter.com/AS20SIvlz4
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) November 21, 2017
That’s about what was to be expected, but there were some omissions that may make Blue Jays fans watching the nest nervous:
Notable omissions: C Max Pentecost, RHP Jordan Romano and RHP Andrew Case
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) November 21, 2017
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.