Cavan Biggio's potential replacement should already have eyes on his roster spot
By Dave Litman
When the Blue Jays signed infielder/outfielder Ernie Clement to a minor league deal back in March after his release from the Oakland A's, the news didn't really move the needle much—either for fans or anybody on the Jays' 40-man roster. Clement, after all, had a career .202 average in the big leagues in 312 plate appearances with the Cleveland Guardians and Oakland A's.
But now, a month into the season, Toronto's incumbent utilityman Cavan Biggio is struggling mightily, hitting just .122, while Clement has been more than a pleasant surprise at Triple-A Buffalo. He's batting .282 with an .803 OPS, two homers, five stolen bases, 12 runs batted in, more walks (six) than strikeouts (three) and versatility that's seen him play at 1B, 2B, 3B, SS and the OF. He's always featured strong Outs Above Average numbers on defence, whichever position he mans.
Ernie Clement should already be eyeing Cavan Biggio's spot on the Blue Jays.
The 27-year-old was a 4th-round pick of the Guardians in the 2017 MLB June Draft, and got himself into 40 games in Cleveland in 2021, and another 63 last season before being dealt to the A's where he played in just six games. His numbers at the major league level were uninspiring to say the least. That career .202 average is further punctuated by a .261 on-base percentage and a .525 OPS, for an OPS+ of 50 (that's 50% worse than the average hitter).
But his start at Buffalo this season has been a revelation. Could it have something to do with playing near his hometown of Rochester, New York? When the Bisons visited the Rochester Red Wings, Clement really had himself a time:
He's never performed like this in the high minors in the past, so it's just possible that Clement is on to something, and it's time to give him another shot in The Show.
With every game, and every at-bat, counting in a tightly-contested AL East, how much longer can the Jays afford to keep running Biggio out there? Is his .122 average and OPS+ of a laughable 27 simply an aberration... a slow start? It's hard to say that he'll be "coming around", when his struggles have increased year-by-year over the last few seasons. He hit .202 in 2022 with a .668 OPS, after a .224 average in 2021.
Clement is currently not on the Jays' 40-man roster, so a move would have to be made to accommodate him.
But it's safe to say that if Biggio is looking over his shoulder (and he should be, at this point), Clement is the face he'd see.