TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays are adding Cavan Biggio and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., to the roster for Friday’s series opener against the San Diego Padres in an intriguing roster recalibration that moves them closer to their future, but leaves them with only two natural outfielders.
Outfielder Billy McKinney and infielder Richard Urena will be optioned to triple-A Buffalo as the corresponding moves, although Biggio will also need a 40-man roster spot. Designating out-of-options lefty Ryan Feierabend for assignment would solve that need, while also making room for lefty Zac Rosscup, set to join the club Friday after being claimed on waivers from Seattle.
How manager Charlie Montoyo deploys his newest toys will be interesting as both Biggio and Gurriel have been set up recently to become super-utility players capable of moving all around the diamond.
They are sure to see some time in the outfield along with Brandon Drury, who’s also been bouncing around between several positions. Randal Grichuk and Jonathan Davis are the only true outfielders currently on the roster, and that could create an opportunity for the warming Anthony Alford in the coming weeks.
Gurriel opened the season as the everyday second baseman but was optioned to Buffalo after making an error on a routine throw for the second straight day and being pulled from an April 14 game against Tampa.
With the Bisons, his focus was first on getting his throwing down at second base before he started working in the outfield, as well, a first for him since logging 307 innings over 40 games in left field for Cuban club Industriales in 2015-16.
Montoyo said the reports on his outfield play have been good and in an interview last week, Gurriel said, “it’s not very complicated, not very complex. It’s just about getting used to it, working on it, being there. The infield, that’s really complex. The outfield is easier for me.”
Biggio, originally drafted as a second baseman, has played every infield spot but shortstop on his way up to the majors, and began working regularly in the outfield in the Arizona Fall League last year.
“I always knew I could move out to other positions and help the team win,” Biggio said in an interview last October. “It’s more running around, which brings me back to my wide receiver days in football. It’s all pretty positive, it’s all pretty exciting.”
Eric Sogard, mostly, and Drury have been handling duties at second base of late, but Biggio and perhaps Gurriel are likely to get some opportunities there, as well.
The roster flexibility will give Montoyo all kinds of options to fill out his lineups, and perhaps add some more production to an all-too-frequently limp batting order.