New bench option emerges as Royals cut ties with Bonifacio

Mark Teixeira's wrist and the great unknown
Yankees' All-Time Single-Season Team
(Ed Zurga/Getty)
(Ed Zurga/Getty)

The Yankees still have an open bench spot and are said to be done with their major offseason moves, meaning low cost guys like Scott Sizemore, Dean Anna, and Eduardo Nunez will compete for the utility infield role. Another relatively low cost option hit the market on Saturday as the Royals designated Emilio Bonifacio for assignment. The move cleared a 40-man roster spot for the recently re-signed Bruce Chen.

Bonifacio, 28, was pretty terrible with the Blue Jays and Royals last year, hitting only .243/.295/.331 (71 wRC+) with three homers and 28 stolen bases in 461 plate appearances. He had a big year with the Marlins in 2011 (109 wRC+ and 40 SB) but he’s been unable to build on it. Bonifacio is a switch-hitter with no real platoon split (91 wRC+ vs. RHP and 88 wRC+ vs. LHP from 2011-13), so platooning him doesn’t figure to help much.

In the field, Bonifacio has a ton of experience at second base, third base, left field, and center field. He’s also spent some time at shortstop and right field, so he offers a lot of versatility. The various defensive stats say he’s a bit below-average in center and average just about everywhere else. I suppose a breakout season could be right around the corner at his age, but at this point it’s safe to consider Bonifacio a role player who provides speed off the bench and can play almost anywhere on the field. Nothing more.

Is he better than Sizemore, Anna, Nunez and whoever else? I don’t think we can say. Is it worth adding him to that Spring Training competition? Yeah, I think so. Bonifacio is owed a lot of money this year ($3.5M), so if he clears waivers, he won’t elect free agency and forfeit that salary. The Yankees could try to claim him if they’re willing to take on that money, but it’s more likely they’d have to swing a small trade because the infield-needy Dodgers figure to be interested. Bonifacio hasn’t been all that good these last two years, but he could make sense for New York as the 25th man on the roster, or at least as part of a competition for that spot.

UPDATE: I got the contract stuff wrong. Bonifacio can’t elect free agency because he’s never been removed from the 40-man roster before. The Royals can release him and would only owe him one-sixth of his salary since it’s a non-guaranteed contract.

Mark Teixeira's wrist and the great unknown
Yankees' All-Time Single-Season Team
  • Eric

    He’s better than Ichiro, and should replace him on the roster before someone like sizemore.

    • dubinsky

      no, he’s not at all better than Ichiro

      • Cool Lester Smooth

        Yes, he is. In fact, he’s -much- better than Ichiro.

  • Dale Mohorcic

    So Yankees would have to work out a trade or wait for his release and then sign him to a new deal?

  • CashmanNinja

    I’m all for taking a shot at him. My proposal may be disliked by some, but I wouldn’t mind if they traded Nunez for him. They’ll swap places on the 40 man-roster and Bonifacio will at least be serviceable. I still like Sizemore and Anna, but Bonifacio would basically give us what Nunez gives us, except he’s not a complete disaster in the field.

    • ALZ


      Nunez is actually better with the bat than him, and he is cheaper, and they have him under control longer, and he is even younger. I don’t think that is enough to outweigh the better defense, especially when they already have someone like Ryan who will be the shortstop if Jeter gets hurt.

      • BY

        Why do Yankees fans care one iota about what player is ‘cheaper’?? The yanks have ridiculous, insane revenue streams which put every other team to shame. The fact that the Dodgers new ownership is rightly willing to take losses to undo the damage inflicted by previous ownership does not mean that they now have money and the Yanks don’t. The ONLY thing we should be concerned w as Yankees fans is does the move make the team better. A swap of the worthless Nunez for the obviously less worthless Bonaficio is a no-brainer if KC would do it. Bonaficio doesn’t buy his gloves from a granite factory, and has + SB skills. Nunez showed last year he really does nothing well.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          Every team, even the eight-time defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers, has a spending limit. That’s why how much is spent on the 25th guy matters.

      • jedua

        Better with the bat?

        better upside maybe, but he has never been an above average player (2.7 oWAR in four seasons, with bad to awful defense).

        even so giving Nunez may be an overpay for Bonifacio since he has no room in the royals anymore.

      • nycsportzfan

        I think Nunez is gonna win the competiton anyways and put maybe shut some people up. The guys bat is way to under appreciated. Sure, he dosen’t hit for power but he can hit for a high Avg, and has some ex base pop in him. Hes also very fast(i know emilo is 2). Nunez wasen’t nearly as terrible at 3rd base defensively as he was at SS. We got Ryan for SS(as a backup!). And he did make quite a few splash plays defensively as well. Hes simply better then the guys listed to be in the Spring Training comp.

  • The Other Matt

    I would like to see the Yankees pick Bonfacio up. I’ve been intrigued by him for the past few years, in part because he is pretty damn good on MLB The Show LOL, but in all seriousness the Yanks should definitely give him a look. At the very least he offers quite a bit of positional versatility, a switch-hitting bat, and even if he isn’t hitting at the level he was in 2011, he has speed which could always be an asset as a reserve player. Not to mention the Yankees could stand to use a few more guys that could cause havoc on the basepaths on a team full of older guys, who often don’t take the extra base. We’ll see what happens, but I have a feeling he ends up elsewhere, like Mike said the Dodgers seem like a good bet to scoop him up, or maybe even the Rays. He seems like a Rays kind of guy.

    • CashmanNinja

      I don’t see the Rays getting him since they just got Forsythe. The Dodgers make complete sense and that’s where he’ll probably wind up. But I’d still take a flier on him — especially if the $$ isn’t much at all.

  • Roadgeek Adam

    Royals have His Annoyingness for a utility infielder, so I am not surprised.

    However, I am not sure I’d flip Nunez for him. His Annoyingness is a better defender.

  • OldYanksFan

    Well, career wise, he a .297 WOBA and worth about 0.7 bWAR/yr. Frankly, Ichiro is more valuable, especially as a LIDR for Beltran and Sori, and as a PR.

    • Caballo Sin Nombre

      No, Ichiro is Japanese; he has absolutely no appeal to New York’s large Latino community.

      • Travis Lincoln

        What are you talking about? What does that have to do with anything? PR= Pinch Runner…not Purto Rican.

        • Travis Lincoln

          Damn computer…Puerto*

        • I’m a looser and a trader baby so why don’t you kill me?

          This post.

          Your head.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          This. Is awesome.

          • Travis Lincoln

            Did I completely muddle that up? I guess I may have missed something, but the japanese not appealing to latinos comment threw me a bit.

      • Delia E.

        Why does it matter if Ichiro is Japanese? Tanaka’s Japanese. Kuroda’s Japanese and they both appeal New York Yankees fans. Ichiro is very appealing, not only to the Yankees but also to the Japanese media.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    Oh, I’d say he’s absolutely worth adding to the mix. I can’t imagine it’d take much other than a low-level guy everyone will claim will become Warren Spahn once traded.

  • The Other Sam

    Jayson Nix-esque? (who by the way landed in Tampa Bay)

    • RetroRob

      And since all moves the Rays make have to be viewed as brilliant, clearly the Yankees made the wrong move.

  • Dars

    He is nothing but an expensive Eduardo Nunez. No thanks, pass!

    • Travis Lincoln

      How? Nunez cant field…can barely hit…and is only a SS. Bonifacio can play 2B, 3B, LF, CF and probably SS in an absolute emergency. He is at worst average in those positions and average is a lot better than Nunez. They may hit the same, but the defense is what is going to matter late in the game.

      • CashmanNinja

        I don’t think Bonifacio can play CF very well at all, but he can definitely play well enough in LF and RF. 3B is so-so, but I think he can fake a SS and do well enough at 2B to be considered. If anything his glove is an upgrade over Nunez, the speed may be about equal, but Nunez always seems to have some nagging injury and…oh yeah, remember how he can’t play defense. Like…at all. I don’t get how anyone could want Nunez over him. The only thing Nunez does well is make contact, run, plus he has youth on his side. But what good is youth and the rest when he won’t play because he is simply that BAD defensively??

      • nycsportzfan

        They don’t hit the same. Nunez is the much better offensive player and underrated offensively on these boards. Nunez hit 290BA from July 31st to the end of the season last yr with good extra base pop. Nunez has 10hrs in 750AB’s, Bonafacio has 10 in over 2000AB’s. They are both fast, so no one gets the edge in that category. Nunez finished 2012 with a 292BA on top of hitting 290BA from July 31st to end season last yr. Bonafacio’s had one yr over 260BA with no ex base pop at all. Nunez was better at 3rd defenseivley then he was at SS. In fact, i think many had made remarks about his improved D at 3rd the last couple months on these boards(not good, but improved), making quite a few splash plays. Hes also younger

        Nunez is just better in my opinion. I think hes better then all the guys in the supposed spring training comp.

  • RetroRob

    So with the update, does that mean he is an immediate free agent?

    • jedua

      he can be traded or released by the royals, he can’t become a free agent on his own

      • RetroRob

        Thanks. That probably works against the Yankees as I don’t see them trading for him at that salary. The Dodgers, however, might take a shot.

  • forensic

    I still have a soft spot for Nunez. Bonifacio has more experience around the diamond and is more used to the role (theoretically), but he’s also more expensive (depending on what it ends up costing). I also can’t help but think about Bonifacio’s 2011, or his bit of a nice little run late last season. I like Nunez’s better contact ability, but Bonifacio walks more.

    Probably 6 of one, half a dozen of the other.