Kansas City Royals: What will Jorge Bonifacio’s role be when he returns?

Kansas City Royals Outfield Jorge Bonifacio (38) (Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Kansas City Royals Outfield Jorge Bonifacio (38) (Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

It was a big blow to the Kansas City Royals this offseason when outfielder Jorge Bonifacio was slapped with an 80-game suspension. He’s served 68 games so far and will be returning to KC soon.

It seemed like it’d be horrible for the Kansas City Royals not having Jorge Bonifacio in their lineup to begin the year, but they’ve survived 68 games so far. Sure, they’ve won just 22 of those games, but hey… The goal wasn’t really to win this year anyway, was it?

With Bonifacio set to return at the end of the month, the Royals will have some questions to answer as far as what his role is moving forward. In 2017, the rookie played mostly in right field (92 out of 113 total games) while appearing in left field nine times and playing center field just once. He also was the designated hitter in eight games.

Jorge Soler has been patrolling right field for most of this season, starting 51 of his 60 games there. The other nine games have seen him as the DH.

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With Soler being decent in right field, it’d be tough to see the organization move him out of that role for Bonifacio. The two could do what they were last year with one playing in right field one day and the other being the designated hitter.

Looking at the current outfield situation, the Royals have just four outfielders on their active roster. Alex Gordon has been holding it down in left field with Soler hanging out in right and Abraham Almonte and Paulo Orlando taking turns in center field.

Almonte and Orlando are what they are at this point and the Royals shouldn’t continue giving them starts in center field. Bonifacio could see time in left field and Gordon could be moved to center on those nights.

What I don’t want to see happen is for Jorge Bonifacio to be ignored and sit on the bench every game while Almonte and Orlando continue to see consistent playing time. Bonifacio is just 25 years old and batted .255 last year with 17 home runs and 40 RBI. He cooled off near the middle of the season, but the hope was that he’d build on his mostly good rookie campaign and become a reliable player down the road.

In a season in which the team has literally nothing to gain except the number one overall pick (and that will happen by losing more), the Royals have time to figure out what Jorge Bonifacio’s role is going to be. Whether it’s as a designated hitter or in the outfield, the organization could use someone like him moving forward.