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Pirates add Meadows, Escobar and Agrazal; trade Ngoepe

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Pittsburgh Pirates Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates have added outfielder Austin Meadows, and right-handers Luis Escobar and Dario Agrazal to their 40-man roster. This protects them from the Rule 5 draft.

Meadows and Escobar were no-brainers. Agrazal was a mild surprise, as he had an uninspiring track record before 2017. He had a strong first half this year at Bradenton, going deep into games, and improving his velocity and K rate. He suffered an oblique injury immediately after a late-June promotion to Altoona, though, and missed the rest of the year.

Of the players left unprotected, arguably the most noteworthy were shortstop Adrian Valerio, right-hander Eduardo Vera and left-hander Jake Brentz. Any of the three, though, would be a doubtful candidate to stick with a major league team for a whole season, for various reasons.

The Pirates also traded shortstop Gift Ngoepe to Toronto for a player to be named later or cash. Ngoepe hadn’t advanced much with the bat and the Pirates have significant shortstop depth in the upper minors and in the majors now, so there was no role for him. It’s good, though, that he was able to reach the majors with the Pirates, making him the first player from the continent of Africa to play in the majors.

The Pirates’ roster now stands at 38. The trade of Ngoepe wasn’t necessary to clear a spot for one of the prospects, so it may or may not indicate that the team plans to make a waiver claim or two.

In one marginally related news item, the Blue Jays have outrighted outfielder Harold Ramirez off their 40-man roster. I hear he was once with the Pirates.

UPDATE: I couldn’t pass this up. The Phillies have dfa’d former #1 overall pick Mark Appel to make room for . . . Engelb Vielma. I’m not making that up.