The Phillies Should Consider Picking Up Emilio Bonifacio
In order to make room on the 40-man roster for starter Bruce Chen, the Royals designated utilityman Emilio Bonifacio for assignment earlier today. Bonifacio will turn 29 years old on April 23 and has experience playing every position on the diamond except for pitcher, catcher, and first base. Over his seven-year Major League career, Bonifacio has racked up 400 or more defensive innings at second base, third base, center field, shortstop, and left field. The Phillies already have a glut of players auditioning for possible roles with the 2014 squad, but they should consider trading with the Royals to acquire Bonifacio.
“I think we’re focused on a left-handed bat, possibly an outfielder or somebody who can play center field, give us more depth out there,” Amaro said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be a left-handed-hitting center fielder, but we’re also looking at trying to upgrade from the left side. That’s mostly what our focus is right now.”
Bonifacio isn’t much with the bat as he has a career .662 OPS and has posted an adjusted OPS of 76 or worse in four of his last five seasons. However, he would hit as little as possible if he were to make the team — his playing time would come more as a late-game defensive replacement or as a pinch-runner. Bonifacio wouldn’t be completely unreliable if he happens to hit, however, as he has finished with a walk rate of 8.5 percent or higher in three straight seasons between 2010-12, and his on-base percentage ranged from .320 to .360.
The Phillies still lack speed. Among regulars, the only players projected to steal 20 or more bases are Jimmy Rollins (20) and Revere (34). Bonifacio has stolen 98 bases in 122 attempts (80 percent) over the last three seasons. You can peg him for an easy 20-25 even in a part-time role. As a speedster, Bonifacio has plenty of experience bunting and he would prove proficient in those instances where the Phillies — much to our chagrin — decide to bunt a runner into scoring position.
One of the understated benefits of bringing Bonifacio on board would be the flexibility to allow Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez to get regular playing time at Triple-A, although manager Ryne Sandberg seemed confident in bringing Galvis north when the team breaks camp at the end of March.
Assuming the Phillies decide to go with a 12-man pitching staff (five starters, seven relievers), their position player corps would be split among the eight regulars (Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Cody Asche, Domonic Brown, Revere, Marlon Byrd) and five bench players — Wil Nieves, Kevin Frandsen, Bonifacio, John Mayberry, and Darin Ruf. The Phillies could still cut Mayberry if, say, Bobby Abreu proves that he still has a little something left in the tank.