The Pittsburgh Pirates have added shortstop Gift Ngoepe to their 40-man roster, according to their official roster page. Ngoepe would have been eligible for minor league free agency soon, and this move keeps him around in the system, much like the addition of Keon Broxton in September kept him in the system.
Ngoepe is the best defensive shortstop in the system, due to his extremely smooth glove work, and exceptional range and routes. He’s also able to provide speed on the bases. Those two skills will eventually get him in the majors as a bench player, backing up the shortstop position. He can also play second and third. The offense doesn’t project to make him anything more than a defensive-minded utility player.
The addition of Ngoepe to the 40-man roster doesn’t mean he’ll be on the major league roster next year, although he will probably have a good shot at the backup shortstop role if Jung-ho Kang is out at the start of the year. This move does allow the Pirates to keep him around for up to three more years, due to his option years.
They could have let him walk as a free agent, and tried to sign him back as a minor league free agent, but they would have risked another team giving him a Major League deal. That has happened in previous years with Pirates minor league free agents Dean Anna and Erik Cordier. In this case, there’s more of an immediate need for shortstop depth with Kang’s injury.
This move probably doesn’t speak well for Pedro Florimon’s chances of sticking on the roster. Ngoepe can provide the same value as Florimon, is younger, and has options. They could try to get Florimon back as a minor league free agent, but keeping Ngoepe around makes him expendable as a depth option.