With the acquisition of Matt Chapman during the 2022 Spring Training, it looked like Blue Jays infielders Santiago Espinal and Cavan Biggio were going to have to compete for playing time at second base on the active roster.
Espinal is coming off a stellar 2021 campaign that saw him take over third base (from Biggio) and collect a .781 OPS and a .311 batting average through 96 games. Biggio on the other hand had a rough 2021 season, battling various injuries and struggling defensively at the hot corner. The lefty-batter eventually finished the year with a .678 OPS through 79 games and 250 at-bats.
Fast forward to today and the woes still continue to follow Biggio. He didn’t collect a hit until his 10th game of the season and he was used sparingly through the month of April, with only three complete games to his name before ending up on the COVID-19 IL in late April. So far, he only has the one hit through 23 at-bats and has struck out ten times compared to three walks, which is very un-Biggio-like.
With Espinal currently leading the league in games (he’s appeared in all 29 so far), when Biggio returns from the IL, what will his role be on the Blue Jays moving forward this season?
With Espinal firmly entrenched at second base and not appearing to slow down any time soon, Biggio may be relegated to the bench and be used in various scenarios throughout the season. He can be used as a pinch-runner if need be or as a lefty-bat off the bench if manager Charlie Montoyo wants to play the matchups. He is able to play numerous defensive positions which is a plus should an injury arise mid-game but with the bat struggling to find any rhythm early this year, Biggio may find some trouble getting playing time on a regular basis and be relegated to the bench.
This would be the prime opportunity for Biggio to expand on being the Ben Zobrist-like utility player that many teams covet on their active roster. He does have the athleticism and ability to play numerous positions on the infield and in the outfield so having him take some reps for players to have off days or slot in as the DH could work well. The problem is the bat hasn’t come around yet, which is concerning because the Blue Jays haven’t exactly been tearing the cover off the ball yet and have some struggles with RISP so far on the season. The left-handedness does bode well with the right-handed heavy lineup but he will be down in the order because of the slow start to the year.
After a slow start to the season, Blue Jays infielder Cavan Biggio may be placed in a different role when he returns from the IL.
Down to AAA
A move that may have seemed less than likely last season or the year prior, it might be time for the Blue Jays to send Biggio back down to AAA to reset and work on his game away from the bright lights of the big leagues. It’s a similar move the club used with Teoscar Hernandez back in 2019 and it worked wonders on his career, as the outfielder now has become one of the more feared hitters in the game to go along with his back to back Silver Slugger awards.
I’m not saying Biggio will go back down to AAA and become the next Hernandez, but a quick reset and some regular playing time might do some good for the 27-year-old to find his rhythm again and tweak his mechanics to find the form that saw him post a .793 and .807 OPS through his first two seasons in the Major Leagues. He is currently down in Buffalo right now to get back into game shape but has yet to appear in any games for the Bisons at this time.
Overall, the Blue Jays have a few options they can follow when it comes to Biggio and his return from the IL. I do hope that the former 2016 draft pick comes back and finds his game again, generating walks and getting on base, as the club could really use his versatility either on the bench or in that utility role. The problem will be finding him playing time amongst this core, especially with Espinal performing well on a consistent basis early this year.
Each scenario has its pros and cons so we will have to wait and see what will happen when Biggio is ready to come off the IL after his rehab stint down in AAA.