As America recovers from its collective Super Bowl party hangover, the Kansas City Royals seem to be all quiet. Just days after re-signing pitcher Bruce Chen and designating super utility infielder Emilio Bonifacio for assignment, the Royals may be ready to go to Spring Training with this roster intact.
It’s clear the Royals feel confident in using Pedro Ciriaco as the primary utility infielder. Bonifacio and Ciriaco are the same age (28) but the former has much more major league experience that the latter. They offer similar skill sets but Ciriaco will cost approximately $3 million less.
The Royals will be working the phones as they have just ten days from the time they designated Bonifacio to try to trade him. If they don’t, he becomes a free agent. Bonifacio has some value but he won’t bring back much more than a middle level prospect at best.
Unless, of course, he can be packaged in a larger deal with say, just for giggles, Wade Davis, and a prospect for rotation depth. While it is nice to dream, it is unlikely another team will take over $8 million in salary for these two unless the prospect is on the plus side.
Bonifacio played some of the best ball of his career in August and September of 2013 for Kansas City, with a slash of .285/.352/..348/.700, all of which are over his career numbers. He brought a spark to the line up, and production the Royals haven’t seen at second base for quite a while.
Designating Bonifacio was probably a smart move, business-wise, because it is hard for a team like the Royals to pay a utility player $3.5 million. The fact they decided to spend that money on Bruce Chen is a whole another discussion. KC Kingdom’s own Brent Guglielmino argued it was a solid signing, while I am not so sure.
Ervin Santana is still available but it seems much less likely the Royals are still in the hunt on that front as it seemed a week ago. It looks like the Royals are content just to let someone else sign him, and they will take the draft pick compensation.
Once again, the Royals seemed ready to make a big move that just might push them over the line from pretender to contender, like last year’s James Shields/Wil Myers blockbuster, yet they back away from that line almost every time. One more good pitcher (not barely average like Chen) could be the difference between falling four games short for the postseason, and actually getting a playoff appearance.
The Royals will be trying to deal Bonifacio this week, but otherwise, they are probably done tinkering with this roster. Bruce Chen is probably going to start the season in the rotation. The Royals are not going to win many divisions that way.