TORONTO -- Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins was a busy man on Monday night as he pulled off a minor trade, added five players to the 40-man roster and parted ways with three others.Major League teams had until 8 p.m. ET on Monday night to protect players from next
TORONTO -- Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins was a busy man on Monday night as he pulled off a minor trade, added five players to the 40-man roster and parted ways with three others.
Major League teams had until 8 p.m. ET on Monday night to protect players from next month's Rule 5 Draft. Toronto added right-hander Conner Greene, catchers Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire, left-hander Thomas Pannone and first baseman Rowdy Tellez to the 40-man roster, while catcher Max Pentecost and right-handers Jordan Romano and Andrew Case were among those left exposed.
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Toronto also pulled off its first trade of the offseason by acquiring infielder Mpho' Ngoepe from the Pirates in exchange for cash considerations. The 27-year-old made his big league debut for Pittsburgh in 2017 and hit .222/.323/.296 in 28 games. Ngoepe is an elite defender who can play all over the infield, but he comes with a light bat.
To make room for all of these additions, right-hander Chris Rowley and outfielder Harold Ramirez were outrighted off the 40-man roster, and utilityman Rob Refsnyder was lost on waivers to Cleveland. Toronto now has one spot available on its 40-man roster, but additional space could be created in the coming weeks to accommodate free agents.
Rowley became the first graduate of the United States Military Academy to appear in the Major Leagues, posting a 6.75 ERA in six appearances for the Blue Jays. Ramirez is a former top prospect whose progress stalled after he was acquired alongside Francisco Liriano in the summer of 2016. Refsnyder was claimed off waivers from the Yankees earlier this year, but struggled with the bat and the glove in Toronto and never appeared to be much of a fit
Minor Leaguers not on the 40-man roster who were 19 or older before signing a professional contract and now going through their fourth Rule 5 are left exposed to the Draft. Players who were 18 or younger before signing and on their fifth Rule 5 also are eligible. Toronto hasn't lost a player through the Major League portion of the Draft since infielder Brad Emaus was taken by the Mets in 2010, but Romano and Case are particularly intriguing candidates this year.
Teams pay $100,000 to make a pick in the Rule 5 Draft, and the selected player has to remain on the Major League roster all season or be offered back to the original team for $50,000. Right-hander Joe Biagini is one recent success story for the Blue Jays, while Glenn Sparkman had a brief stint in Toronto this year but eventually was sent back to Kansas City without fanfare.
Pentecost, ranked by MLBPipeline.com as Toronto's No. 8 prospect, might be the biggest name from the list of those who did not receive protection. He was taken with the 11th overall pick of the 2014 Draft, but he has struggled to remain healthy throughout his career. Pentecost was limited to 171 games over four years in Toronto's organization and has yet to resume a full-time workload behind the plate. The 24-year-old has never appeared above Class A and it's hard to envision a team carrying him on the active roster all year, but the upside might be worth the risk.
Case is coming off a flawless stint in the Arizona Fall League, where he did not allow a run over 10 innings. Prior to the AFL, Case posted a sparkling 1.58 ERA over 40 innings at Double-A New Hampshire and it's possible he might become a potential bullpen piece for teams in the Draft. The same could be said about Romano, who had a 3.39 ERA in 28 games for Class A Dunedin and could be marketed as a long reliever on a rebuilding ballclub.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.