Will Mets Acquire Emilio Bonifacio?

The Kansas City Royals recently re-signed former Met Bruce Chen to a one-year, $3M contract that includes an option for 2015. To make room on the 40-man roster for Chen, KC designated Emilio Bonifacio for assignment. Will the Mets make a play for the speedy utlityman?

The 28-year-old Bonifacio has played at least 100 MLB games each in the outfield, at second base, and third base, and appeared at shortstop 97 times. Personally, based on his skill set, I think of him primarily as a second baseman — if, say, he was to become a regular at one position, that’s where I’d see him being most valuable.

Throughout his big-league career, the switch-hitting Bonifacio has had an inconsistent approach at the plate. At times, he’s been an undisciplined, wild and aggressive swinger, while at other times, he’s shown an ability to be more patient at the plate. His best year offensively was in 2011, when he played 156 games and batted .290 with a .360 OBP. A big reason for that big season? Heeding the advice (or was it demand?) by manager Jack McKeon to take more pitches and focus on getting on base. Bonifacio flourished under McKeon’s direction, taking over as the everyday leadoff man in late June of ’11 while playing multiple positions. The position he played most often that year? Shortstop — 67 times. He was far from spectacular as a shortstop, but, no worse than, say, Omar Quintanilla.

Of course, we know from advanced metrics that managers have absolutely no affect on a team, or individual player’s, on-field performance. But the old-schoolers may appreciate the McKeon – Bonifacio story — stories, for some, are more entertaining than numbers. Oh, and for what it’s worth, Bonifacio’s career (and on-base percentage) slid in 2012 — when Ozzie Guillen took over the Marlins. A coincidence, I’m sure, since Bonifacio didn’t do well for John Gibbons in Toronto, either — though, he did produce for Ned Yost, after being traded to the Royals and installed as the starting second baseman and #2 hitter in the lineup.

From the first time I saw Bonifacio play, I thought, “wow, imagine how this guy’s game would play in Citi Field.” He has great athleticism and is one of the fastest players in the game — two traits that are rewarded and valued when playing in a large park. I will never, ever understand why the Mets don’t work with, instead of against, the vast expanse of The Park at Shea Bridge, but perhaps someday it will be explained.

So, let’s review:

– The Mets need a leadoff batter
– The Mets need a utilityman who can at least fill in at shortstop
– The Mets could use real competition for Ruben Tejada at shortstop
– Speed and athleticism plays well in the Mets’ home park
– The Mets have no money and few trade chips to acquire anyone of value
– Emilio Bonifacio has had success as a leadoff batter
– Emilio Bonifacio is a super utilityman who can play shortstop
– Emilio Bonifacio was a regular SS for a brief period
– Emilio Bonifacio is athletic and fast
– Emilio Bonifacio has been DFA’d, so will require little to acquire

Is it me, or is this a no-brainer? I’m not suggesting that Bonifacio is the Mets’ answer at shortstop — or anywhere specific, for that matter. But couldn’t you see him batting leadoff every day for the Mets, moving among 2B, SS, LF, RF, CF, and occasionally giving David Wright a breather at 3B?

Shouldn’t the Mets be on the phone with the Royals immediately to work out a deal? Tell me in the comments if I’m missing something.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Rev.Al February 1, 2014 at 4:50 pm
    I agree,that he seems to fit our need. Satin may be a utility guy, but don’t play s/s ? And this Bonifacio does that and more.We should be on the phone now.
  2. MiniIke February 1, 2014 at 5:16 pm
    I think they!ll be signing Drew within the next couple of weeks. Everything points to it. Tejada then slides to backup infielder where he probably fits better and gets a chance to prove he is a ML player rather than being handed a ML starting job.
  3. argonbunnies February 1, 2014 at 5:30 pm
    If last year was simply an off year, then I agree, Joe, Bonifacio should be a no-brainer. However, the word was that he couldn’t do anything well last year. The Jays couldn’t stomach his defense at 2B. He struck out 103 times in 420 ABs, with 30 walks. If a guy’s going to slug .330 every year, whiffing that much is just crazy. He’s turning 29, which probably means he’s not as fast as when he was 25. The Royals were so impressed by how he played for them last year that they just cut him, despite a .285 AVG & .352 OBP.

    So, I don’t think Bonifacio is a credible leadoff hitter or threat to Tejada. At least, not without a second “manager helps you turn the corner” experience (which I’ve never heard of at the big league level). He is fast and cheap, though. I’d put him in the category of “Sure, why not?” but no higher.

    • Joe Janish February 2, 2014 at 3:11 pm
      First off, I get the feeling that KC cut Bonifacio because of his salary – their payroll may be at its limit, and they didn’t see it as financially responsible to pay $3.5M to someone they viewed as a bench guy.

      I believe Bonifacio’s struggles in Toronto and in Miami under Guillen were due to emotional and/or confidence issues. From what I’ve heard, he wasn’t happy on the bench, and that can be construed as an attitude problem (not in a Jordany Valdespin way; it would seem to be more of an internal, sulking thing than an outward, disrespectful immaturity). Maybe so. But at the same time, I look at his raw abilities compared to the players on the Mets 40-man roster, and see him finding someplace to play at least 5-6 times a week — and if he’s on the field that often, sulking won’t be an issue. Some humans feed off of others, and Bonifacio seems to be one of those — in other words, if a manager instills him with confidence, he could be a great asset.

      To me, he’s Tony Phillips Lite — less pop, but more speed. Couldn’t the Mets use Tony Phillips right now?

      As for age affecting Bonifacio’s speed — first off, he’s going to be 29, not 39. Second, baseball players whose “game” is based on their legs tend to age well, maybe because even when they “lose a step,” they’re still faster than 90% of ballplayers. And, it’s not as drastic to baseball performance for a speedster to lose a few tenths in the 60-yard dash, as it is for a one-dimensional slugger to lose a few milliseconds of bat speed and/or pitch recognition. Juan Pierre, Rickey Henderson, Lou Brock, Otis Nixon, Eric Young Sr., Tim Raines, Willie Wilson, Bert Campaneris, and Kenny Lofton all played 15+ years and through their mid- to late-30s (or early 40s). Vince Coleman stole 42 bases when he was 33.

      • argonbunnies February 3, 2014 at 4:28 am
        Tony Phillips walked 100 times a year. Let’s not go crazy, man.

        If no one grabs Bonifacio off waivers, the Royals are stuck with that $3.5 mil salary anyway, aren’t they? Either way, seems like a significant indictment.

        That “speedsters age well” stuff is incredibly over-stated. Just because big strong dudes who can’t do anything else age poorly doesn’t mean you want a lousy speedster. If you want to talk Rickey, Brock, and Raines, well, they’re the best ever; compare their aging to Hank Aaron and Ted Williams. Bonifacio is no Rickey; the slugger who he’ll age better than is Jack Cust, not someone good.

        Also, did you see those speed guys play OF late in their careers? Nixon was the only one who was still actually any good. Everyone else was just out there because they used to be good and managers aren’t good with change.

        Yeah, 29 isn’t 39, but EB might need every last ounce of speed he ever had in order to contribute. Seriously, a K every 4 ABs and no position. Ugh.

  4. LongTimeFan February 1, 2014 at 5:51 pm
    According to you, the advanced metrics say managers have no impact on results.

    Well, the last time I checked, the advanced metrics say 50% of marriages end in divorce, the United States has an obesity crisis, and that the planet is mired in global warming with continued downtrend in the absence of serious human intervention working together to for the common good on broad basis.

    Where human behavior and output is concerned, it is, I think rather fool-hearty to believe as you do. Where living human beings are concerned, such as in baseball, and the afore cited examples, every act impacts every other on both individual and group basis, baseball being a sport which thrives on both.

    It very much appears your beliefs on managerial impact, negates the human element out of the equation, negates the impact of leadership, communication, decision-making and all other things a manager does to impact one and all on the field and off. If that lack of input is to be believed in human terms, then the folks who take the field to play this the game – the players – must by default, be non-human to be unaffected. That makes me feel sorry for you, sad for you and the players you coached whom you have no problem taking credit for their ascension to pro ball in what amounts to self-serving hypocrisy. unless you can demonstrate otherwise to maintain credibility in this reader’s mind which may or may not matter to you one way or another.

    • Dan42 February 1, 2014 at 7:19 pm
      Methinks someone missed the train called sarcasm that passed this way several hours ago.
      • Joe Janish February 2, 2014 at 2:10 pm
        Indeed. Kind of takes the fun out of it.
    • Joe Janish February 2, 2014 at 3:15 pm
      LTF, I’m sorry that you missed the joke.

      Also, global warming cannot be blamed by, nor affected by human intervention any more than the ice age was caused by dinosaur farts.

      ;-)

  5. LongTimeFan February 1, 2014 at 6:05 pm
    Insofar as Bonifacio, I’m in favor of signing him for very versatile bench or platoon role – the platoon being with Tejada. The more options Collins has to mix and match for good of the team on day to day basis and for a long season, the better.
  6. Bjw February 1, 2014 at 6:40 pm
    Sign him.
  7. NormE February 1, 2014 at 7:57 pm
    To me the question is whether Bonifacio is a gain over EYJr?
    They’re both speedy utility types who can switch hit. Unless the Mets are going to carry Quintanilla on the 25 man roster as a back-up, then you can replace him with Bonifacio.
    • argonbunnies February 1, 2014 at 10:23 pm
      I was thinking the same thing. Not much reason to have both Bonifacio & EY active. Bonifacio would be great AAA insurance, but if he’s willing to take a minors deal, why would he take it from the Mets?
      • Joe Janish February 2, 2014 at 2:25 pm
        Except that Eric Young, Jr. is a poor fielder at 2B, adequate in LF, and really can’t play anywhere else, even as a fill-in, whereas Bonifacio can play all three OF positions decently, as well as 3 of the 4 infield positions well enough.

        The ability to play one and a half positions vs. six is an extreme contrast.

        But more to my thinking, the Mets should be building a pile of Young, Jr. / Bonifacio types. Considering the home park, I’d MUCH rather see redundancy with speedy, athletic players than the nonathletic, one-dimensional likes of Duda/Clark/Davis/Allen/Brown/Flores.

        We’re in a new era — or, rather, cycle. Pitching, speed, defense are king, and two of those three skills are currently undervalued. The cash-strapped Mets should be exploiting that gap in the market by stockpiling athletic players — which, by the way, fit perfectly into their home park. What’s that concept called? Money – something. Some guy named Alderson is supposedly the godfather of it.

        • argonbunnies February 3, 2014 at 4:39 am
          Having an athletic team in a big park is cool, but Bonifacio has been panned as a defender everywhere he’s ever played. The Jays were playing guys at 2B who they knew couldn’t hit, for defensive reasons. If I remember right, he has terrible hands, bad reads, and an inaccurate arm. He has 22 errors in the equivalent of 143 career games at 2B.

          On offense, it’s hard to take advantage of a big park when you have zero pop. Per 575 PAs, he’s averaged 28 extra-base hits. A few more doubles turning into triples won’t suddenly make that an asset.

          I’m not saying “stay far away!” but I am saying “keep your expectations very low”.

  8. Reese February 1, 2014 at 11:50 pm
    I don’t necessarily see it as an either-or between Bonifacio and Young. They both have roles due to versatility and baserunning abilities. The difference is that Bonifacio could slide into play SS which Young cannot do. Right now I’d rather see Bonifacio at SS and leading off with Lagares in CF than Tejada at SS and Eric Young leading off in an outfield position with Lagares regulated to bench duty or Las Vegas.
  9. Mic February 2, 2014 at 5:20 am
    I second Reese’s comment.
  10. Yazzy February 2, 2014 at 8:59 am
    I think signing Bonifacio should be done immediately. He is versatile, very fast, and plays multiple positions. I also like their minor league signing of Anthony Seratelli who I also think might make the team as he is a natural SS who also plays a good outfield, 2nd, 3rd along with 1st base. He has some pop and decent speed too and he is invited to Spring Training. I still would like to see Wilmer Flores at SS because that was his natural position so let’s see what conditioning camp has done for him. You really got to like Flores, and his positive attitude that he is willing to do just about anything and play just about anywhere. So many athletes are more difficult than amenable to try new positions. So I think the Mets should simply leave Tejada behind and concentrate on Flores, Seratelli and hopefully Bonifacio helping the Mets infield.
  11. DaveSchneck February 2, 2014 at 9:39 am
    I don’t think EB can bring good enough D to start at SS. I do prefer him on the bench over Q. I think he needs to be traded for at this point and the Mets would need to pay his arb salary of $3.5 mil. I suspect Alderson will wait any try to sign him if he gets released.
    • Joe Janish February 2, 2014 at 3:23 pm
      If the alternative is Omar Q. as the starter, I’ll live with Bonifacio’s defense and take his offense.

      But, I envision Bonifacio getting one to two starts a week at SS, with the rest of his playing time spread among 2B, 3B, and all three OF positions.

      Or, move Dan Murphy and Wilmer Flores to 1B in a platoon and make Bonifacio the starting second baseman. But then you have no place for the other 5 DHs to play.

      • DaveSchneck February 3, 2014 at 9:26 am
        I can’t stand adulterated baseball, and I fear that some day it will take over the senior circuit, I also fear that the Wilpons may petition for expanded adulteration – let 9 guys hit and 9 guys field, and one has nothing to do with the other. That would really fit the current Mets’ personnel.
  12. JOE T 694 February 3, 2014 at 1:42 pm
    Sign Drew, pick up Bonifacio and designate Tejada. You can sign Drew fairly cheap and improve the bench with a quality glove, good legs, and an average bat. Ridding yourself of an unproductive player that will always be under the microscope as the replacement to Jose Reyes.
    Flores might have re-found his way after winter ball and allows you, if your in the position and Murphy is still producing to trade Murphy with some return and not get hurt by it. But if any of this is to happen you cannot forget the glaring holes in the bullpen…
  13. DanB February 4, 2014 at 11:31 am
    I can see the Mets moving Murphy to first and using EY as their second baseman/lead off hitter. Next they pray that no grounders are hit to the right side of the infield and DWright learns how to hit with two outs and nobody on base.
  14. CleonJames February 5, 2014 at 3:39 am
    As I’ve said several times this winter, Bonifacio is perfectly Metiocre.
    • CleonJames February 5, 2014 at 3:42 am
      Should read: As I’ve said several times this winter, Bonifacio is perfectly mediocre and therefore a perfect fit for the Met(iocre)s. We’re still at 73 wins and holding. A good place to be if you want to win 100 games the next year ;-).