Biggio DFA opens door for Blue Jays prospect

Spencer Horwitz (No. 16) expected to get 60/40 split at second, first base for Toronto

June 8th, 2024

OAKLAND -- A subpar start to the 2024 campaign has created plenty of tough decisions for the Blue Jays. The latest one was designating for assignment in order to create room for on the 26-man roster before Friday's 2-1 walk-off loss to the A's, a move intended to spark the team's scuffling offense.

Manager John Schneider and general manager Ross Atkins let Biggio know about the move on Thursday night. It was a "tough conversation," Schneider said, in which he and Atkins told Biggio that it was more about the team's roster construction than Biggio's capabilities as a big leaguer.

"He wasn't playing a whole lot," Schneider said. "And just us trying to take a different route with our roster and how we're trying to construct it, and the potential for a bit more offense with Spence.

"Again, nothing Cavan did wrong. We expressed that to him. He's been a really good Major League player for a number of years, and he's going to continue to be that."

Biggio was once part of the core group of prospects that represented a bright future for Toronto. But the other members of that group, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, were seen as the headliners of the movement.

Despite taking on more of a reserve role with the club, Biggio was beloved in the Blue Jays' clubhouse and a solid contributor in his tenure. The 29-year-old was at his best in his first two big league seasons, batting .240 with a .798 OPS and a 116 OPS+ in 159 games from 2019-20, but his production dropped off in the years that followed.

Biggio slashed .200/.323/.291 across 44 games in 2024. He made his most starts at second base (23) and in right field (10), while also logging time at first, third and designated hitter.

Cutting Biggio isn't the only tough choice the Blue Jays have made lately, as they also optioned a struggling Erik Swanson to Triple-A Buffalo in late May.

"Knowing all the players that have been involved, they all understand why those decisions were made," Schneider said. "I think that you look up, and you are where you are, and you evaluate, 'OK, what have we been doing? Has it been working, has it not? Is it time to try something else?"

The Blue Jays, sitting three games below .500 and in fifth place in the AL East, are not where they would like to be at this point. Their underperforming offense has played a large role in their current situation, and the hope is that Horwitz can help them get going.

Toronto's No. 16 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, made his big league debut last year and appeared in 15 games across two stints in the Majors. Horwitz went 10-for-39 (.256) with two doubles, a homer and seven RBIs.

While the Blue Jays got off to a disappointing start, Horwitz put together a stellar two-plus months of 2024 for Buffalo, slashing .335/.456/.514 with 22 doubles, four homers and 38 RBIs in 57 games.

Schneider said the tentative plan is for Horwitz to split time 60/40 between second base and first base, with some games as the DH here and there. The left-handed-hitting Horwitz had good numbers against lefties in the Minors this year, but he'll get most of his starts against right-handers for now.

Before 2024, Horwitz had played just seven Minor League games at second base. This year, he's played 11 games there, and impressed his Buffalo coaches while making the transition to the middle infield.

"The words they used were 'pleasantly surprised' with his gameplay," Schneider said. "They put a very specific plan in place as to what they were working on every day. He performed well, and I think he's at the point with his bat where he can hit in the Major Leagues."

Horwitz has also tapped more into his power this season, which had been a lesser component of his game in years past. Part of that has come from having more confidence in what he does well, which he said has contributed to his strong start to 2024.

"If you hit a little bit of a rut or something doesn't go your way, like not making the team out of spring, sometimes you can question yourself," Horwitz said. "I think I kind of got my swagger back a little bit, and it's gone a long way."