The Blue Jays added five prospects to their 40-man roster ahead of today’s 8:00 pm ET deadline to protect players from being eligible for the Rule 5 draft, according to a team release:
Selected to the Blue Jays 40-man roster – RHP Conner Greene, C Dan Jansen, C Reese McGuire, LHP Tom Pannone & 1B Rowdy Tellez.
— Blue Jays PR (@BlueJaysPR) November 21, 2017
Heading into the deadline, the Blue Jays were looking at a group of six to eight players who had potential to be added to the 40-man rosters. Of that group, there were two very obvious additions for Toronto. Conner Greene struggled in his second run through double-A New Hampshire, but every single team would be willing to take a chance on a man with a 100+ mph fastball who gets a lot of groundballs. Likewise, catching prospect Dan Jansen was an absolutely lock to be claimed if left unprotected. Jansen rocketed all the way from Dunedin to Buffalo in 2017, hitting .323/.400/.484 across the three levels including .328/.423/.552 in 78 triple-A plate appearances. With average defensive skills and a solid bat, there’d be little risk for most teams to let him stay on as a backup or third catcher in order to keep him in the system.
The next tier of playes who were very likely, but not guaranteed adds included pitcher Tom Pannone, acquired for Joe Smith at the 2017 trade deadline, and catcher Reese McGuire, acquired at last year’s deadline along with Francisco Liriano. The reasons for both are similar. While they may be limited in terms of their absolute ceilings, especially compared to Greene and Jansen, both look like viable big leaguers and possess skills that a team could easily hold onto for a year before sending them back to the minors. Pannone is a strike thrower who has a very deceptive delivery that led to great results in double-A and McGuire is an elite defensive catcher. And most importantly, the two players are close enough to the big leagues that they should be able to hold their own if necessary. As such, both likely would have been claimed if left unprotected.
The most intriguing name to be protected has to be Rowdy Tellez. Coming off a spectacular 2016 season that saw him hit .297/.387/.530 as a 21 year old in double-A, many were hoping Tellez would open the year in the bigs instead of Justin Smoak. However, Tellez then went out and had an awful year in Buffalo in 2017. He just never could get going and finished the year with a paltry line of .222/.295/.333. It was hard to see any team keeping a first baseman who didn’t hit on their roster all year, but the Jays obviously didn’t think it was worth the risk.
One name you may be surprised has been omitted from this list is former first round pick, Max Pentecost. Pentecost has had all kinds of trouble staying healthy since being drafted, but was finally able to stay on the field this year. However, after a hot start to the year he badly faded down the stretch and then followed that up with a terrible showing in the Arizona Fall League. He still has yet to play above Dunedin or to catch back-to-back games since returning from injury, so he seems like a safe bet to pass through the draft.
The five players added means that in addition to Pentecost, the Blue Jays are also leaving Francisco Rios, Roemon Fields, Angel Perdomo, Jordan Romano, and Andrew Case unprotected. Romano may be the most likely to be selected of that group, as he struck out a batter per inning in Dunedin this year and may profile better as a reliever thanks to his heavy reliance on the fastball. Case also could be at risk as he did a really good job keeping runs off the board in New Hampshire and then didn’t allow a run in the Arizona Fall league. He pitched more with feel and stuff though – and doesn’t get a lot of strikeouts – so teams may hold off.
In order to make room for the new adds, the Blue Jays outrighted Harold Ramirez and Chris Rowley off the 40-man roster earlier in the day. They also lost Rob Refsnyder to Cleveland on a waiver claim, but that spot was immediately filled by the trade for Gift Ngoepe from the Pirates.
The Blue Jays 40-man roster now stands at 39 heading into the rest of the offseason.
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