Inbox: Breaking down Biggio, Horwitz, potential moves

June 9th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Keegan Matheson’s Blue Jays Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

TORONTO -- Now comes the hard part.

The Blue Jays are entering a run of series against the Brewers, Guardians (twice), Red Sox (twice), Yankees, Astros and Mariners over the next four weeks.

As they work to point their season in a better direction, here’s what’s on your mind:

Why Biggio and not Vogelbach? -- @Fishandboats

I won’t pretend I saw this coming just to sound smart. I was surprised by the decision to designate for assignment on Friday, even though I understood the reasoning that went into it.

The Blue Jays need to chase offense at this point, and has been a much better hitter since the middle of May. If they’re going to play at third to stack some lineups for platoon advantages, Vogelbach will be part of those. Toronto is valuing Vogelbach's big-swing potential over having someone like Biggio on the roster in a more redundant role.

This was a heavy move. Biggio has a lot of supporters within the organization, and he has deep roots with so many in the clubhouse and on the coaching staff. He was one of the most interesting baseball minds on the team, too. I always valued Biggio’s thoughts, both on his own game or broader team issues.

Does the decision to promote Horwitz mean more time for Vlad at third base? -- Stephen T.

Marginally, but don’t expect a big swing. I do think (No. 16 prospect) needs to get a legitimate run in the lineup, though.

Horwitz is best appreciated over a long stretch. Someone like No. 2 prospect or No. 6 prospect can come up and wow you in one game with a 460-foot homer. Horwitz is more of a slow burn, grinding out at-bats and reaching base, but I think he’s a big leaguer. Power is an issue, but as long as the Blue Jays match him up against right-handed pitching, there’s enough.

Is Joey Votto in a Jays uniform still a real possibility? Has either side gotten cold feet with the way this season has started for the team? -- @cbradley2928

The latest is that Votto is still improving, still taking live BP and still going through baserunning drills. I remember standing in the hallway speaking with Votto soon after he rolled his right ankle on a bat in the dugout, and he felt he’d be back in action the next day. That was on March 17.

Manager John Schneider continues to say that Votto “wants to be 100%” before he gets into games. It’s still possible and both sides want this to work, but a lot needs to go right. I’ll be fascinated to hear the full story of his recovery from this ankle injury someday.

When will we finally get to see Orelvis? -- @nickyelbows

No one will love this answer, but it’s starting to feel like the likeliest way you’ll see Martinez in 2024 is if the Blue Jays are falling out of contention at the Trade Deadline. Toronto gave Barger a shot earlier this year and now it’s Horwitz’s turn. Martinez’s defense is improving, but proficiency with the glove is still the biggest hurdle he faces.

Do they need to sign or trade for another pitcher? feels like the only other legitimate MLB starter. -- Greg T.

Good luck finding any MLB-caliber depth on the waiver wire or in the bargain bin. Teams across baseball are facing the same issue as the Blue Jays, and while other organizations have set themselves up better by developing young starters, almost everyone is looking to add more depth.

If No. 1 prospect can work his way back to Triple-A Buffalo by July, then that could change everything, but No. 9 prospect belongs in this conversation, too. The lefty -- acquired from the Teoscar Hernández and Erik Swanson deal -- has a 3.60 ERA with 71 strikeouts over 55 innings. He’s close to earning a promotion to Triple-A, and while he’s still just 23, the realities of the Blue Jays’ pitching depth means opportunities are open.

Could the Jays be in on big name player trades? Thinking Pete Alonso and Luis Robert Jr., even though I assume they don’t have enough for Robert. -- @adambl555

I don’t see the Blue Jays as traditional “buyers” right now, but one thing to keep in mind … this front office likes to handle its business a year early. The Whit Merrifield trade is a good recent example. The front office did that for 2023 as much as the ‘22 stretch run. Looking ahead to 2025's needs, consider the Trade Deadline an early stab at the offseason.