— Pete Grathoff (@pgrathoff) February 1, 2014
Shortly after Emilio Bonifacio avoided arbitration with the Royals by signing a one-year, $3.5 million contract, the team designated him for assignment (DFA). General Manager Dayton Moore now has ten days to trade Bonifacio, or the Royals will get nothing.
Bonifacio stepped in to help the Royals in a big way down the stretch in 2013. He took over the everyday second base duties from a sub-par patchwork of infielders. In 42 games for the Royals, he batted .285/.352/.348, with sixteen stolen bases.
Rumors of trade interest swirled around Bonifacio after the Royals signed Omar Infante, but Dayton Moore said he expected Bonifacio to play a big part in the Royals organization in 2014. Well, apparently, Boni’s $3.5M price tag was just too much for the Royals to spend on a utility infielder (however, they will spend over $4 million on spot-starter, Bruce Chen).
This means a few things for the Royals bench. First, Pedro Ciriaco is now the favorite to win the utility infielder role. Ciriaco is a journeyman who played for three teams last season (BOS, SDP, KCR). He has the range to play shortstop and will provide some pop from the bench.
Secondly, this probably signals the end of Justin Maxwell‘s tenure as a Royal. Without the elite speed of Bonifacio on the bench, the Royals need to keep Jarrod Dyson for pinch run situations. The Royals also acquired right-handed power for the bench when they traded for Danny Valencia. Maxwell now has no unique talents to help the club. Expect him to be traded or DFA’d soon.
Whether this ends up as a good or bad move depends entirely on Dayton Moore’s ability to get something valuable in return for Bonifacio.
Bonifacio is good enough to play shortstop and center field on occasion, as well as play above average second base every day. Above average second basemen are currently in the majors. Twenty teams had second basemen with less than a .750 OPS in 2013. Defensively, most of them are nothing to write home about. Dayton Moore should be able to get a decent haul for such a unique player.