3 Blue Jays who made the Opening Day roster, but shouldn’t have a long leash
By Edward Eng
Cavan Biggio will be entering his fifth season with the Blue Jays this year. This will be an important year for him, as it could be his make or break year with the team. With both Whit Merrifield and Santiago Espinal competing with Biggio on the utilityman depth chart, he must come up big in 2023 to show that he deserves to stay and be an everyday player on the roster.
Statistics are certainly not in his favor, as Biggio has shown signs of regression since his debut year with the Jays. In his first year with the Jays in 2019, he showed encouraging signs of being the whole package, displaying great plate discipline with an OBP of .364, in addition to some power with 16 home runs, and speed with 14 stolen bases. However, all of those stats have been on a steady decline since that year for the past three years, including some stints on the DL and the minors as well. With stiff competition from Merrifield and Espinal, as well as Lopez and Barger waiting in the wings, it appears that patience may be running thin and that the writing may be on the wall for Biggio if he doesn’t show he can contribute consistently and effectively at the Major League level for this year and beyond.
It may be a bit harsh to put Nathan Lukes already into this category, since after all, he had just finally made it to the big leagues after almost a decade of hard work in the minors. Not only that, Lukes also had a strong Spring Training, hitting .286 with six RBIs.
Nevertheless, there were three main factors in addition to his performance that gave him the advantage over his competitors: he bats left-handed, he has the speed that could be used for late inning pinch running (20 SBs last year in Buffalo), and he can serve as the backup to cover any of the three outfield positions.
However, he does not have any prior major league experience up until now, so if he begins to struggle adjusting to the big leagues, Lopez could be ready to take over. Lopez has the same attributes of covering the outfield position, has considerable speed and can play some infield too.
Let’s all wish the best of luck to Richards, Biggio, and Lukes, and that they all have a productive year with the Jays. By doing so, they can finally put away any worries and doubts behind them to be part of the team success in 2023.