With the additions of Cavan Biggio and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., playing time is going to come at a premium, and it’ll likely cost a couple of veterans.
Despite the fact that the Blue Jays dropped their Friday night game by a score of 6-3 to the San Diego Padres, there were still reasons for the fan base to be excited.
Friday night marked the big league debut of Cavan Biggio, whose call-up has been much anticipated by the Blue Jays faithful, especially after he carried over his 2018 Double-A MVP Award to being a premium contributor in Triple-A this season thus far. Craig Biggio, Cavan’s Hall of Fame Dad, was on hand to see his son’s first game, and even an 0-3 night with two strikeouts can’t ruin that feeling.
The game also marked the return of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. who made his first big league start in the outfield, and added a solo home run to announce that he’s back. It was the second of a back-to-back pair of home runs for the Blue Jays after Freddy Galvis had hit a two-run homer.
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The lineup had a bit of a different look with the new additions as well. Biggio got the start at second base, his most familiar position, and Gurriel Jr. was out in left field. Brandon Drury made another start in right field, and figures to see more time out there, while Eric Sogard and Jonathan Davis got the night off.
Those three names figure to be the most affected by Gurriel Jr. and Biggio’s promotions, in various different ways. Davis is a young player as well, and it sounds like he’s going to be more of a fourth outfielder for the time being, and likely a frequent defensive replacement late in games for the infielders turned outfielders.
As for Sogard and Drury, it’s hard to say how much they’ll each figure into the Blue Jays’ plans going forward. It sounds like Drury will still get opportunities in the outfield, and also backing up second and third base, but you’d have to think that he would fall behind the youngsters on the depth chart, at least in terms of prioritizing development. He was in the leadoff spot on Friday and has been swinging a pretty hot bat this week.
On the other hand, Sogard has finally come back down to earth a bit with his batting average sitting at .265, and while he’s been a fantastic surprise for Charlie Montoyo‘s club this year, the veteran can probably see the writing on the wall at this point. I expect he’ll remain with the big league team, at least while the new duo gets adjusted to the highest level (again in Gurriel Jr’s case), but it’s hard to see how they can justify giving him too many starts with the way the roster is currently constructed.
I’m not sure if the front office has explored the idea of trading him to an infield-needy team, and maybe there would be little to no interest in the 33-year-old, but hopefully there’s a MLB opportunity out there somewhere for him. It’s not his fault the Blue Jays needed to make some roster tweaks and was actually more a result of the outfield play than anything, but the trickle-down effect will likely be the same, even if he’s earned his spot.
As the Jays continue to transition into the next generation of this team, we’re going to see less room for veterans. Don’t be surprised if the same eventually happens to guys like Galvis, Justin Smoak, or one or more of the starting rotation. It might not mean an upgrade right away, and if Biggio struggles then don’t be surprised if you hear chants for “Nerd Power!”, but it’s the right move for a rebuilding franchise.