Sep 14, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals second baseman Emilio Bonifacio (64) reacts after being ejected in the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Royals Designate Emilio Bonifacio for Assignment

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.

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    Very confusing what the hell is going on with the organization anymore. Granted, these are backup guys we’re discussing, but everything I’d heard before was that Bonafacio would play a big role as a super utility guy. I can understand not wanting to pay a guy that much to be a backup, but then why sign him? Was the plan all along to trade him? What’s the story with Maxwell then? I’ve never known the Royals front office to be that calculating, so it looks like they’re flying by the seat of their pants. What’s the likelihood we’ll ship off Bonafacio and Davis in a package deal? That might actually net something of value in the right situation.

  • jimfetterolf

    Some thoughts on this, based on MLBTR and other sites: Bonifacio is apparently unhappy with the bench, a problem he also had in Florida and Toronto, which is why the Jays just gave him away.

    Other teams do have some interest in him, the Dodgers, Yanks, and Mets mentioned so far.

    The projection systems aren’t kind to his offensive expectations and ’13 Royals may be an outlier.

    He is an average 2B by the defensive numbers and below average everywhere else.

    Royals may think Chris Colon is about ready to come up as UIF, so trade Boni now and DFA Ciriao later. One was going to be gone soon, the other eventually anyway, so team may have had reason to think they could sell relatively high on Bonifacio now.

    And finally, as Whoa mentions, this may be setting the stage for a package deal as we also will have to trade one of Maxwell or Dyson and we may have excess relief pitchers and 4A starters while needing some younger depth in the minors.

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