Toronto Blue Jays Acquire Gift Ngoepe from Pittsburgh Pirates

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30: Gift Ngoepe
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30: Gift Ngoepe /

The Toronto Blue Jays made an interesting trade on Monday, as they acquired infielder Gift Ngoepe from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It is safe to say that the Toronto Blue Jays need help in the middle of their infield. Troy Tulowitzki has gone beyond oft injured at this point, and is a candidate for the disabled list if he climbs out of bed. Devon Travis has yet to live up to his potential, and is also battling the injury bug. Darwin Barney is a free agent, and Ryan Goins has done virtually nothing with his opportunities. The Blue Jays need additional depth in the middle of the infield.

On Monday, the Blue Jays addressed that potential need on their roster. They have acquired infielder Gift Ngoepe from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for cash or the infamous Player to be Named Later.

The first player from Africa to appear in the majors, Ngoepe has proven to be a valuable defensive player throughout his professional career. Although he was mainly a shortstop in the minors, he has spent time at second and third, as well as short, at the major league level. Defensively, he would certainly make a valuable utility infielder.

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However, there is the question of whether or not Ngoepe will ever hit enough to justify a roster spot. In his brief trial with the Pirates last year, he produced a .222/.323/.296 batting line, with eight walks and 26 strikeouts in 63 plate appearances. That strikeout rate is acceptable for a player like Joey Gallo, but Ngoepe had all of three extra base hits last year.

This continues the trend that Ngoepe showed in the minors. His defense was utterly brilliant, but he simply did not hit. Over his nine years in the minors, he has a lifetime .231/.320/.351 batting line, with 43 homers and 90 steals. In his three years at AAA, Ngoepe has a .221/.295/.341 batting line, with only 14 homers and eight steals.

There may well be room for improvement with Ngoepe. Although he is going to be 28 years old at the start of next season, he is still relatively raw offensively. If he can produce at a rate even similar to that of Goins last season, his defensive ability may be enough to land a spot as a utility player in Toronto.

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The Toronto Blue Jays need infield depth. They got that with their acquisition of Gift Ngoepe.