First Pitch: Pirates Upcoming Roster Decisions Just Got More Interesting

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.

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I’m predicting a Pedro Alvarez/ top prospect trade for a # 2 starter. Someone with 2 or 2+ years control


After the recent Seattle trade I wonder if the Mariners would be a good spot for Alvarez….

Travis P

Sanchez may make the 55 man roster if MLB decides to make some more changes to the game…lol. Ugh, seemed to have so much promise as a defensive steady catcher we’d have for 7 or 8 years in Pittsburgh. But, that’s why they’re a “prospect” until they prove otherwise.

Scott K

Pretty sure Gift puts Pirates over the top in ’16. And if they win in ’17, too, he will be the Gift that keeps on giving.


While I understand Gifts a great story, you would think they could a glove first SS somewhere down the road.

Weird roster bind. More FAs than NH has ever had. Rule 5 additions. Eroded pitching depth.

I’m gonna try very hard to let this play out, but as always I’ll probably be scratching my head at some things. But they’ve been right more than wrong lately.

J Nader

The other aspect, is that almost all glove first SS have literally no upside with the bat, like Florimon. With Gift, because he is so raw, there is a non-zero chance, albeit slim, that his bat breaks through enough to not be a total black hole. Add in the options, and that’s why hes still here.


Rule 5. Let’s see how it goes.


If there is a better ” glove first SS somewhere down the road ” than Ngoepe, give me the name please. He is the best fielding infielder that I have seen come through their system in the 15 seasons I have been watching their AA teams.


And you’re probably the better hitter.

Let’s see how it plays out with the roster first before you start getting nasty.


And you don’t have a clue as to what you are talking about. You are the person who said there has to be a better ” glove first…..”. I said name one, then you move the goalposts like most blowhards do. Oh damn ! I forgot, right now you are the current designated genius on all prospects.


Get off my lawn, young feller!!! Lol.


Cheaper still than Florimon I would imagine…so swap the one for the other.


Personally I think what they could lose in Rule 5 could have more long term value. Let’s see how it plays out before we crown Gift, Rafael Belliard.

Bobby L

Also, 3 options to zero.

Travis P

Yup, money plays no part of that one. It’s all about the options, or lack thereof.

Brian Bernard

Over on MLB TradeRumors: A few interesting notes including mentioning Alvarez as an attractive piece for the team, while also noting the Cody Ashe is a potential trade chip for teams that want to move him back to third….. This is a good potential match, with room for a few more names.
For those that always snarl about multiplayer deals, note the very intelligent help both teams trade between the Rays and M’s yesterday. A 3 for 3 swap – which is the kind of move the Bucs should consider.
Ashe/Giles for Alvarez/W. Garcia or Alvarez/Morton
The point is, there is potential for a nice team upgrade for both clubs.

Bobby L

The swap between the Rays and Mariners looks good for both teams on the surface.
The Mariners got a nice back of the rotation starter and the Rays got a young middle infielder, both with years of control.
Getting Giles would be a fine move, but I wonder why the Phils would want Alvarez or Morton. I’m not a Morton backer at all, but who would replace him?


That was about as uninspiring a deal as there could be…..unless the name ” Boog Powell ” excites somebody.


No, Cody Asche has no business starting on a playoff contender. The Pirates need to move Kang to 3rd and get a better hitting SS.


All of my Phillie buddies are totally UNenamored with Cody Asche. In over 1,000 PAs, he has an OPS of .693.

However, I WOULD love to have Giles.

I like the Alvarez/W Garcia deal, but I am not sure what the Phils would want with Pedro. They still have Ryan Howard, unfortunately for them, under contract.

Brian Bernard

40 Men.
1. McCutchen
2. Marte
3. Kang
4. Walker
5. Cole
6. Liriano
7. Polanco
8. Cervelli
9. Harrison
10. Mercer
11. Melancon
12. Watson
13. Alvarez
14. Glasnow
15. Bell
16. Taillion
17. Morton
18. Locke
19. Morse
20. Stewart
21. Ramirez
22. Hanson
23. Moroff
24. Caminero
25. E. Diaz
26. W. Garcia
27. K Broxton
28. J. Hughes
29. R. Scahill
30. Holdzkom
31. Rondon
32. NGoepe
33. Barnes
34. Holmes
35. T. Sanchez
36. J. Decker
37. Kingham (Possibly back this year?)
Drop the rest, including LaFromboise

FA signs
38. J. A. Happ (3/30)
39. Bastardo (2/4)
40. S. Rodriquez (2/8)

Scott K

Serpico has punched his last Gatorade cooler in a Pirate uniform.


Serpico back for 2 years. Really?


Hurdle gets a kickback, I suppose. None of those numbers add up in my opinion, but I respect his.


It’s better than Cody Asche.


No- its not because Cody Asche doesn’t cost 8 million dollars

Bill W

Can’t see Sanchez anywhere near the 40 man roster. His ship sailed. Don’t know if Rondon has shown anything to be included.


It would be a great story to see Gift come up the big club and they certainly could use the “outstanding D” that he reportedly can provide. Is he a “speed option” off the bench? Would be nice to see Pirates finally using their own players to provide depth/bench rather than recycled veterans. Maybe Gift and K Broxton could provide late-inning speed to help manufacture runs – the KC formula has been shown to work!

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