There are multiple ways it could play out, but either way there is going to be an important role for Cavan Biggio with the Blue Jays in 2022.
Obviously the biggest question the Jays will have to answer that could impact Biggio will be regarding the free agent status of Marcus Semien. The club has every reason to want him back on a multi-year deal, and the veteran spoke on Sunday evening about how much he enjoyed his experience as a Blue Jay, and why he’d consider returning as well.
If the Blue Jays can re-sign the 31 year old then he’s obviously going to resume his place as the starting second baseman. However, if Semien does sign elsewhere then it’s entirely possible that Biggio could return to his first big league position. After watching him spend the majority of his time at the hot corner in 2021, I think most fans would agree that he’s better suited at second base. He’s obviously not going to replace Semien’s production, but it is one possible role for him next year depending on how Ross Atkins and the front office go about their business over the winter.
If Semien returns, or maybe even if he doesn’t, I can still see a significant role for Biggio in 2022, especially if he can stay healthy and look more like the player he was in 2019-20 rather than what we saw in 2021. We already know that he’s at least a capable back-up at first, second, and third base, and he’s also gained some experience as an outfielder as well where he has looked pretty serviceable. That versatility is an important factor, and it could allow the Blue Jays to make a few other moves this offseason.
I honestly believe that Biggio will end up as the utility man that the Blue Jays have always seemed to want him to be, but that there will be a greater focus on playing the outfield than ever before. I say that because my expectation is that Randal Grichuk will be playing in another uniform in 2022, and he quietly factored heavily into the Blue Jays’ season, especially early on. However, as we got to the stretch run it was clear that Grichuk wasn’t viewed as much more than a platoon player and/or a defensive replacement for later in the game, and both sides would likely agree that he has more to give. However, it might be hard to find that opportunity for him in with the Blue Jays next season as long as George Springer, Teoscar Hernanez, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. can stay healthy.
Because that’s a fairly big “if”, the Jays will need some back-up plans and my guess is they’d rather not spend around 9.33 million (10.33 with signing bonus according to Spotrac.com) on that depth, and I’m sure Grichuk is looking for more as well. The veteran outfielder has spoken out many times in the past about his desire to be an everyday player, and I’m guessing he’d welcome the opportunity elsewhere if it’s not going to happen in Toronto. It might require the Blue Jays eating some of his salary, but with two years left on his contract it’s still very tradable.
Getting back to Biggio, it’s important that he’s developed into a capable outfielder. It’s not his strongest position to play, but he’d be good enough to cover for shorter stretches in 2022 and beyond as long as no one experiences the kind of injury issues that Springer went through this season. It would also give him more of an opportunity to get into the lineup in the future, while also not really having a starting role.
After a season that never really got on track for Biggio in 2021, I’m hoping that he can return at 100% health and get back to the player he was turning into prior to this year. If he can do just that, it’s not hard to see an important role for him in 2022 and beyond.