2021 Second Base Options
Tuesday, November 10 2020 @ 09:36 PM EST
Contributed by: John Northey
Part 5 - like the last one, we have a strong incumbent but good free agents exist. Could the Jays force Biggio to go elsewhere on the field?
- Cavan Biggio - what a year - 127 wRC+, 119 lifetime now, big improvement in fielding at 2B (4.6 UZR/150 vs -0.2 last year), but not so good elsewhere as he hopped everywhere (1B -80 UZR, 3B -13.4, RF -18.6, CF -0.1 in 23 innings, also a bit in LF) The ultimate team player, now up to 20-0 for SB-CS, in 159 games he has hit 240/368/430 with 112 BB vs 184 SO. He really needs to figure out how to deal with umps calling that third strike.
- Also had Joe Panik, Jonathan Villar, and Brandon Drury play at 2B but none are on the 40 man now, and probably won't be ever again. I expect Espinal will be the top backup in 2021 (121 games at 2B in the minors).
- AAA: Richard Urena was #1, now gone, Andy Burns #2, a AAAA guy, then Biggio, then Alen Hanson also a AAAA guy. Next came ML'ers Espinal & Gurriel Jr. (forgot he was tried all over before settling in LF), Sogard and Bichette.
- AA: Espinal was #1, Vinny Capra #2 a 20th round pick who reached AA in year 2, 229/295/309 at age 22, entering his age 24 season now - if still here he'll be fighting for a spot in AA/AAA, also played SS/3B/CF so being groomed as a utility guy I'm guessing, Logan Warmoth was #3 (listed him on the SS list).
- A+: Samad Taylor was #1, 216/235/364 at age 20, now 22 this year. Played 2B/3B/SS. Will be interesting to see what happens with him as he really isn't showing a lot but was young (at 22 though he needs to reach AA this year). Warmoth was #2, Kevin Vicuna #3 got a tiny bit of AAA time while hitting 253/318/333 overall with 20 SB vs 9 CS now age 23, more a SS than 2B.
- Others: Tanner Morris in Vancouver will get a shot to move quickly (246/384/346 entering age 23 season), as will Rafael Lantigua in Lansing (254/302/373 entering age 23 season), LJ Talley hit terribly in Lansing but at 24 might get another shot, Miguel Hiraldo was in Bluefield (Rk) and Lansing hitting 299/346/485 and is 20 this year so he'll have a shot at Dunedin and AA this year I suspect. The GCL Jays had Jose Rivas as their #1 (284/368/413 now entering age 20 season) - I expect he'll get a full shot to make a team this year.
- Plus of course every guy at SS and many at 3B.
- DJ LeMahieu is the big one - 177 OPS+/wRC+ last year, 100 wRC+ lifetime (IE: don't expect that bat to repeat). His UZR/150 was -1.0 but 4.7 lifetime so he is probably league average still on defense. Not wow, but nice. At 3B he was -11.2 last year, -1.3 lifetime, but was barely positive the year he played there the most (0.8 in 400 innings in 2019). Also 4 innings lifetime at SS, 299 at 1B. Entering his age 32 season - remember 2B do not age well so no more than 3 years unless you are willing to write off anything beyond that. Has a Qualifying offer attached (the only 2B with that).
- Kolten Wong - 92 wRC+ in 2020, 96 lifetime (ie: what you see is what you get) Entering his age 30 season so less of a risk to drop off quickly. 7.5 UZR/150 at 2B last year 5.9 lifetime. In 2016 he was used in all 3 OF positions as well for just 106 innings. So this is a pure 2B who is excellent on defense which would be a nice change of pace for the Jays.
- Others are weak (such as Villar) and would be no more than a backup here.
No good/realistic trade prospects jumped out at me.
So basically it is DJ LeMahieu or Wong or why bother. The minors are weak here but Biggio is strong. Not really seeing much point unless LeMahieu or Wong are much cheaper than expected. Wong might be (Cards didn't pick up his $12 mil option) and would work nicely if Biggio is good with shifting to 3B (not a fan of him there, but he is a known hard worker) or to a super-utility role (ie: plays at every position on a rotating basis to give everyone some rest).