In 2013, Emilio Bonifacio benefited from a new start. After hitting just .218 through 94 games in Toronto, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals.
During his time in Kansas City, he played in 42 games while hitting .285 and stealing 16 bases- four more than the 12 he stole in Toronto in more than twice the time. He became the everyday- starter for the Royals, who lacked a real second baseman. Had he kept up the pace for a full season in Kansas City, it could have gone down as the best season of his 7-year career, and very acceptable numbers for a starting position.
The only problem; Bonifacio holds a .262 career average with only 10 total home runs. Those numbers do not cut it for a Major League starting player. However, with Bonifacio’s speed and average-to-above-average defense, he becomes a suitable player for a utility role.
He has experience at second base (mostly), but also in the outfield.
With the off-season addition of Omar Infante, Bonifacio will see his role with the Royals dramatically decrease during the 2014 season. He will probably start less than 30 games (barring an Infante or outfield injury, *knock on wood*). Ned Yost will also utilize Bonifacio’s speed as a late inning pinch-runner after Jarrod Dyson has already been used.
Bonifacio’s play could greatly impact the Royals’ success in 2014. Perhaps not as much as it did in 2013, but if he can come into a game in the late innings and become a play-maker instantly, it will help tremendously.
However, he is fairly expensive for a utility player. He earned $2.6 million in 2013 with the Royals, which was a great deal for the level of success he provided for the Royals as an everyday starter.
On Friday, the Royals avoided arbitration with Bonifacio by agreeing to pay him $3.5 million. That is pretty good pay for a super utility player, regardless of how many positions he can play.
The Royals may decide to try to trade Emilio Bonifacio to alleviate some payroll issues. They have Pedro Ciriaco on their 40-man roster, who could turn out to be a very similar player to Bonifacio. While he has some value, Kansas City probably won’t get much in return for him, but Bonifacio could be a nice piece of a bigger deal.
Even if the Royals keep him, Bonifacio is skilled enough to be valuable super utility guy and pinch runner. Yost likes to use his bench in late game situations, so Bonifacio will see plenty of action.
Having this kind of quality depth is a luxury the Royals have seldom had over the years. Enjoy it.