Emilio Bonifacio, the fleet-footed former Marlin and Blue Jay, has been designated for assignment by the Kansas City Royals. The Royals now have 10 days to trade him, or he becomes a free agent. How would Bonifacio fit with the Mets?
Let’s start with a simple answer: Very Well. Bonifacio plays the infield and the outfield, and as mentioned earlier, this man can run. Last year with the Blue Jays and Royals, Bonifacio played 90 games at second base, 38 games in the outfield, 6 games at third base, and 1 game at shortstop. Offensively, Bonifacio hit .243 with a .295 OBP. Over his career, Bonifacio is a .262 hitter, with a career OBP of .322. Additionally, Bonifacio has stolen 138 bases in his career, and been caught stealing 36 times, for a success rate of 80%.
So why would he fit well with the Mets? For one reason, the Mets can benefit from an upgrade at the reserve middle infielder position. Right now, the primary candidate on the roster is Omar Quintanilla. Bonifacio brings quite a bit more to the table than does Quintanilla. A second reason why the Mets should consider Bonifacio is his afore-mentioned speed. His ability to run allows him to play the outfield as well as the infield, and possibly steal a key base late in a game (think Dave Roberts in the 2004 ALCS). Third, the Mets have some uncertainty at shortstop. Assuming they do not sign Stephen Drew, Ruben Tejada is slated to begin the season as the starting shortstop. Tejada has, at best, been inconsistent over the last 2 years. Bonifacio would provide depth at the position. While not a natural shortstop, Bonifacio has started 81 games at shortstop over his career. His UZR at shortstop is -6.3.
One factor working against the Mets acquiring Bonifacio is his $3.5 million salary. It’s likely the Royals will be able to trade him before he becomes a free agent, so the new team will have to assume his salary. The cost-conscious Mets may opt for Quntanilla as a less expensive utility infielder option. However, it’s hard to deny the fit between Bonifacio and the Mets. The Mets need a talented, veteran utility infielder, Bonifacio is just that, and even more with his ability to play the outfield. The Mets have little speed outside of Eric Young Junior, and Bonifacio provides speed. All teams need roster flexibility, and Bonifacio can play 6 positions.
Whether or not Bonifacio lands with the Mets will be determined over the next two weeks. If the Mets could trade Lucas Duda or Ike Davis to Kansas City, they’d essentially produce a financial wash. It makes sense to add Bonifacio. We’ll find out if Sandy Alderson sees it that way.