The Blue Jays have signed right-hander Joe Biagini to a minor league contract, tweets Jamie Campbell of Sportsnet. He’ll presumably be invited to big league camp whenever it can finally get underway.
It’ll be a reunion for the two parties, as Biagini made his big league debut with the 2016 Jays after being selected out of the Giants organization in the 2015 Rule 5 Draft. He turned in an outstanding rookie season in Toronto, tossing 67 2/3 innings of 3.06 ERA ball with an even better 2.95 FIP mark. A move to the rotation the following season proved to be a misstep, however, as Biagini was torched for a 5.73 ERA in 18 starts (as compared to a 4.16 mark in 31 2/3 innings of bullpen work that year). The experiment continued early in the 2018 season, but Biagini returned to the ’pen after just four starts and struggled his way through the remainder of the season.
A return to the ’pen as a full-time reliever in 2019 brought about much better results — albeit not quite to the extent of his excellent rookie campaign. In 50 innings of bullpen work with Toronto, the Biagini notched a 3.78 ERA with 50 strikeouts against 17 walks. The Jays, still in the final stages of a rebuilding effort, flipped Biagini to the Astros alongside righty Aaron Sanchez at the 2019 trade deadline — a deal that brought Derek Fisher back to Toronto.
That swap didn’t work out for either party, as Biagini wound up pitching just 19 innings for the ’Stros over the next two seasons while serving up a staggering 22 runs. Sanchez quickly went down with a shoulder injury and only wound up pitching 18 2/3 frames in Houston himself. Fisher spent parts of two seasons in Toronto and batted just .177/.295/.395 before being cut loose.
Biagini spent the 2021 season in the Cubs organization, where they again worked him primarily as a starting pitcher with their Triple-A affiliate. In 91 2/3 frames, the right-hander posted a 5.50 ERA. He appeared in one big league game late in the season as a Covid replacement player for the Cubs, picking up a win after pitching three scoreless innings of relief. He was removed from the 40-man roster thereafter and, as such, eligible to sign a minor league deal even amid the ongoing lockout.
All told, Biagini has a 5.03 ERA in 331 1/3 big league innings, though his struggles as a starter skew the numbers a bit. Biagini has a lifetime 6.08 ERA out of the rotation compared to a more palatable (albeit pedestrian) 4.53 ERA as a reliever. He’s been better than average in terms of limiting hard contact and barreled balls, per Statcast, and Biagini also possesses elite spin rate on a curveball that has been an effective pitch for him — alongside a similarly strong changeup. He’s tried out a four-seamer, sinker and cut fastball throughout his big league career, and all three (particularly the sinker) have been hit hard.
Right-hander Jordan Romano has emerged as the clear top reliever in the Toronto bullpen, and he’ll be joined by returning names such as Trevor Richards, Adam Cimber and Tim Mayza — as well as offseason signee Yimi Garcia. The Jays are expected to continue seeking bullpen help after the lockout, but Biagini’s experience and familiarity with the organization could eventually earn him an opportunity if he shows well either in camp or in Triple-A.
I wonder if he can grant 3 wishes.
That magic appears to have departed with his Rule 5 status
Careful what you rub
Biagini and Kawasaki were two “characters” who helped the Jays stay loose through the ’15/’16 playoff runs.
Wonder if he’s anything more than minor league depth at this stage?
He’s been alright as a reliever, outside of a couple months in ’19 with the Astros which can maybe be blamed on the stresses of a midseason trade or losing access to Pete Walker. Just no more trying him as a starter please.
I'm Tellez'in you its gonna get Rowdy
The Beeg is great – glad to see him return to the team he had success with. I particularly enjoyed his hilarious interviews.
He definitely profiles better as a reliever, but there’s more ability in there then the numbers suggest. I think he is also a great example of how good Pete Walker is as a pitching coach, because under his coaching is really the only place he’s had MLB success.
You might have the best name ever for anything!
I'm Tellez'in you its gonna get Rowdy
Ha! It was originally meant as a joke for a Rowdy Tellez post but apparently names are forever… lol
This guy is hilarious.. different kind of humor but if you get it, you get it.
Jays also signed Greg Bird to a minors deal
East title was already bagged but solid depth piece.
Really glad to see him back. Much like the Bird signing I don’t expect much, but I like the signing. As a few other commenters have noted, he’s quite the unique guy. Maybe Walker can help him figure things out and he can provide some solid middle relief. Again, as someone else mentioned: please don’t experiment with him as a starter again. As much as I loved John Gibbons, that was one decision (to be fair it might not have been all on him) that I really was annoyed with him over.