We’re now two weeks away from the deadline to add eligible prospects to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. During the summer, I wrote about the amount of players that the Pirates have eligible for the draft this year, noting that they’ll have some interesting decisions to make, and some potential trade chips. Since that article, they’ve traded two of the eligible players (Adrian Sampson and Yhonathan Barrios) and have added a few guys to the 40-man roster.
The latest addition came today, when the team added Gift Ngoepe to the 40-man, which prevents him from becoming a minor league free agent and signing elsewhere. In my breakdown over the summer, Ngoepe was one of the guys who was at risk of being lost to another team, due to the amount of players the Pirates have to protect. Those other players? Tyler Glasnow, Josh Bell, Harold Ramirez, Max Moroff, Barrett Barnes, and Clay Holmes.
The Pirates now have four spots open on the 40-man roster after the addition of Ngoepe. They could create two more spots and add the six players above, but they’d need additional spots for other moves this off-season. Specifically, they’d need spots for moves that would add to the active roster. So where can they get those spots?
The other big news that came out today was that Casey Sadler had Tommy John surgery at the end of the year, which will put him out for all of the 2016 season. That makes him a prime candidate to be removed from the 40-man roster, allowing him to complete his rehab in the minors. The same thing could be done with Brandon Cumpton, who will also be out for the 2016 season. Both pitchers could return as depth options for the MLB rotation, but the Pirates have plenty of depth options in the upper levels. Removing Sadler and Cumpton would create two spots.
The addition of Ngoepe also makes Pedro Florimon expendable, as he’s out of options and provides the same value as Ngoepe has at shortstop.
There are other guys who are out of options, such as Jaff Decker, Bobby LaFromboise, Jorge Rondon, and Tony Sanchez. I’d put Sanchez as the biggest risk of being bumped from the roster, as he wasn’t called up in September. Decker could compete for a roster spot next Spring, as could LaFromboise if the Pirates don’t add another left-hander. Rondon could be DFAd with a chance to clear waivers, but he’s another guy who could compete for a job next Spring. Sanchez has no shot at a roster spot, since he ranks fourth on the catcher depth chart, and doesn’t have much value at any other spot (mostly first base) off the bench. That could create an additional spot, with a few other spots that could possibly be cleared.
There are some guys who could be removed from the 40-man roster, and the Pirates wouldn’t be losing much. But there’s also the possibility that they could find their MLB upgrades through the trade market, using some of the Rule 5 guys as trade pieces much like they did at the deadline with Sampson and Barrios. I don’t see them dealing Glasnow or Bell at all, but anyone beyond those two from this class would seem expendable due to the depth that the Pirates have.
The Pirates had some interesting decisions to make in the next two weeks before today’s pair of news items. Now that Ngoepe has been added to the 40-man roster, and Sadler will be out for the 2016 season, it gets a bit more complex. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next two weeks are busier than normal for early November, just because of the roster decisions the Pirates have to make.
**Pirates Add Gift Ngoepe to the 40-Man Roster. Aside from the player and team aspect, the story is great here, considering Ngoepe’s background and the unlikely odds that he’d ever make it this far or be this good at the toughest defensive position on the field.
**Casey Sadler Has Tommy John Surgery. The pitching depth took a big hit this year, but there are additional guys stepping up to replace Sadler and Brandon Cumpton. Newly added Trevor Williams is one of those pitching options, and Chad Kuhl and Steven Brault could also emerge as depth options in 2016.
**AFL Live: Austin Meadows/Reese McGuire Photos, Cody Dickson Recap. I arrived in Arizona this afternoon, and had some brief coverage of today’s game, with expanded coverage of the Pirates’ AFL players tomorrow.
**Pirates Decline 2016 Club Option For Radhames Liz. Not a surprise, considering he didn’t stick in the majors and was outrighted in September.
**Winter Leagues: Three Hits For Osuna, Florimon Makes Winter Debut. Osuna is another guy who is eligible for the Rule 5 draft, but wouldn’t have a spot on the active roster. He’s probably not a risk to be protected by another team, since first basemen usually don’t get drafted, much less protected.