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.
About the Author
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.