What should the Blue Jays do if Cavan Biggio continues to struggle?
The Toronto Blue Jays boast quite a few players with baseball pedigree like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Cavan Biggio, all of whom had fathers who played professional baseball for extended periods of time with some even in the Baseball Hall of Fame. While the core of the Jays lineup is made up of mostly homegrown talent, there are a few players who are struggling at the beginning of the 2021 season.
Drafted by the Blue Jays in the fifth round of the 2016 amateur draft, University of Notre Dame alum Cavan Biggio would make his debut on the major league stage in 2019 after crafting a .255/.375/.424 slash line at the minor league level. Since his debut, the left-hitting utility player has slashed .233/.359/.414 over three seasons and 788 plate appearances, cranking out 26 home runs and 80 RBI with 20 stolen bases (and has not been caught stealing yet). One of his most impressive attributes was his ability to get on base via base on balls, leading all rookies in 2019 with 71 walks. Another impressive feat was that he hit for the cycle against the Baltimore Orioles later that season, following his father’s footsteps and hitting for the third cycle in Blue Jays history.
It is no secret that Biggio can get on base when he is seeing the ball well, but the 2021 season has not been kind to the Texas native so far early in the campaign.
Prior to Tuesday’s game against the Oakland Athletics, Biggio was sporting a .179/.293/.295 line with two home runs and four RBI along with 12 walks against 32 strikeouts. Defensively, the Blue Jays had him playing third base to begin the season but he has struggled at the position, currently sporting a -3 defensive runs saved with a .891 fielding percentage and six errors on the season. Most recently, the club has had him moving across the diamond, spending time in the outfield as well as taking a few reps at second base.
Considering Biggio didn’t have a ton of experience as a third baseman coming through the Jays farm system, one could accept the odd error here or there given that he is still figuring it out “on the fly”. Unfortunately, the errors are starting to pile up on the left side of the infield and he overall just hasn’t looked that comfortable on the hot corner, albeit to his best effort. He is an athletic player, but his arm strength and awkwardness at the position just isn’t boding well, making it seem like he should have stayed at second base where he played primarily in 2019 and 2020.
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Offensively, Biggio has become more aggressive at the plate and so far the plan hasn’t been working. He was shifted down in the batting order with the addition of Marcus Semien this off-season, but Biggio just hasn’t been patient in the box like we are used to seeing, accumulating more strikeouts and fewer walks as well as fewer hits, bringing his slash line and his OPS down compared to his previous season totals (although it is early).
While you don’t want to get too brash with any quick decisions considering the season is just over a month old, one has to consider if the struggles Biggio is facing is worthy of a demotion down to AAA, not so much as punishment, but more of a refresher without the glaring eyes of the Blue Jays fanbase breathing down his neck. The Blue Jays have utilized this tactic before with Lourdes Gurriel Jr. when he had the yips at second base, and this may be a worthwhile consideration for Biggio given that he is in some sort of funk that may require a quick reset rather than throwing him out in random positions hoping a utility role mentality will see him perform better on the field.
Whether the Jays do plan to use him at third base or across the field moving forward, if Cavan Biggio continues to hit below the Mendoza line and continuing to commit errors defensively, management is going to have to step in sooner or later to stop the bleeding. Biggio has tremendous potential and the ability to hit and see the ball well, but right now he is not performing like fans are used to seeing and it almost seems better to have him calm down and refocus away from the major league stage rather than keep throwing him out every night hoping he hits his way out of the funk he is in.
The next few weeks will be one to watch with Biggio and see if he can start to put the ball in play and find his way on base while also playing solid defence wherever he gets thrown. If he continues to struggle, don’t be surprised if Biggio gets sent to Buffalo for a few weeks to regroup.