Earlier today, the Royals needed to open a spot on their 40-man roster, and so they designated for assignment Emilio Bonifacio. My first thought apparently was also Mike Axisa’s first thought: I wonder if the Yankees might take a look at him.
Here’s the good stuff: Bonifacio turns 29 in April. He’s played nearly every position on the diamond, and has primarily handled second and third (with what looks like basically league-average defense in recent years). He’s a switch hitter. He’s stolen at least 28 bases each of the past three seasons. He’s floating out there, available on a one-year deal, without requiring draft pick compensation or prospect sacrifice to acquire.
Here’s the bad stuff: Aside from his 2011 season, Bonifacio’s never been a particularly good hitter. He’s fine as a utility type, but he hasn’t been a standout everyday guy. Although this wasn’t always the case, Bonifacio’s hit righties quite a bit better than lefties the past two years (and the Yankees primarily need a guy who hits lefties). He’s owed $3.5 million this year, so he’s not cheap.
So is it worth a waiver claim? I’d say yes, mostly because I assume — but I’m not positive — his contract would remain non-guaranteed after being claimed, meaning Bonifacio could be released in spring training at a fraction of the cost if the Yankees don’t have a spot for him. The speed and flexibility would be nice off the bench, especially if the Yankees manage to trade Ichiro Suzuki and decide not to carry Eduardo Nunez (who would be their best pinch running options). That being said, I don’t think it’s remotely a slam dunk that Bonifacio is a better option than Nunez or Scott Sizemore or Russ Canzler or whoever else is a part of this bench competition. He’s versatile, and he’s fast, and he’s young, and those are all good things. But there’s a reason he’s been traded three times and basically cast away twice. He’s a reserve, utility type, and the Yankees already have a handful of those coming to camp at far less than $3.5 million.