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KansasCityRoyalsEmilio Bonifacio is not a game-changer. He’s probably not even a starter on a bad team. But he is two things: (1) Worthy of a roster spot on just about any team, at least as a bench piece; and (2) Free.

On number two, the caveat is that he’s free to claim off of waivers from the Royals, who today (per Chris Cotillo) requested unconditional release waivers on the utility player after failing to trade him over the past week (he was DFA’d last week). Bonifacio is under contract for 2014 at $3.5 million, and any team can have him right now if they just pick up his contract.

If it so happens that Bonifacio, 28, would have multiple suitors at his current price (which admittedly yields the question: then why couldn’t the Royals trade him? I guess they just ran out of time, and didn’t want to risk having to release Bonifacio and be on the hook for most of his salary), then maybe the Cubs should be interested for little other reason than asset gathering. Waiver priority right now goes by the reverse standings from 2013, so the Cubs would lose out on a waiver claim only if the Astros, Marlins, or White Sox also placed a claim (which they might). The Cubs have priority with respect to every other team in baseball, including several would-be contenders that might really like to have Bonifacio on their bench. Maybe the Cubs are able to pull something similar to the David DeJesus trick the Nationals pulled last year – use waiver priority to grab a guy for free, trade him for a tiny something a couple days later to a team up the priority chain.

And, for the record, Bonifacio could theoretically help the Cubs, too. Let’s imagine that Mike Olt does not win the third base job, and Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy are set to platoon there. That would leave an open infield gig on the bench, which could be filled by a minor league deal/non-roster invitee type, by Logan Watkins, or by someone like Bonifacio. Just two years ago, Bonifacio was a 2.8 win player for the Marlins, and put up a .296/.360/.393 line (albeit with a BABIP about 40 points higher than his career average). He was fairly meh in 2012 and 2013 (though he did tick up after a trade to the Royals halfway through 2013).

But little of Bonifacio’s value is going to come from his bat. Bonifacio is a true utility player, who can literally play anywhere on the field besides pitcher and catcher (though he hasn’t had occasion to play first base, he certainly could). That kind of versatility deepens a bench, which could be a further bonus on a team like the Cubs, which is looking to carry as many fringy, try-them-out-and-see-what-happens type players (particularly in the outfield) as possible. Bonifacio also runs the bases particularly well.

Add it all up, and I could see an argument that the Cubs should be claiming Bonifacio, despite the otherwise crowded roster picture in a non-competitive year. I’m not sure they’ll want to commit $3.5 million to a flyer at this point, but, all things considered, that’s a pretty small, short-term commitment for a guy who could generate some value in the first half of 2014.

(h/t to BN’er Kyle for the in-comments nudge to take on the subject)

  • ssckelley

    So did Kyle help you write the article or was he just the motivating force behind it? :D

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The swift kick in the buttocks.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I’ll give him a little h/t love, too.

  • ssckelley

    What I don’t understand is if he presents any kind of value why would Kansas City of all teams be waiving him?

  • rabbit

    Pick him up and then trade him or barney.

  • Johnny Chess

    Aren’t the Yankees looking for the same kind of player as Bonifacio

  • abe

    Does he have a locker room/attitude problem?

  • https://www.facebook.com/AnotherSpaceSong Bret Epic

    The Cubs have picked up less worthy pieces than Bonifacio in the past. Considering he’s in his prime years, has some speed (something the Cubs are lacking) and can fill many different roles, I think he’s worth a 3.5 million gamble. Under the helm of someone like Bill Mueller, it’s possible for him to improve his patience and learn to take some walks. An increased OBP and the ability to steal bases could lead to a decent lead-off man. Definitely worth a 3.5 million risk.

    • Funn Dave

      That’s pretty much exactly what I was thinking. There’s a chance that he could provide no value whatsoever, but like you said, he has a higher upside than a lot of the questionable players we’ve collected over the past few years.

  • Jim

    Who would get displaced from the 40-man if we signed him? Is he worth that spot?

    • Kyle

      Brett Jackson or Brett Wallace, I’d assume.

      At some point, the 40-man is going to probably need to be rebalanced to add an infielder and a catcher and drop a pitcher and an outfielder.

      • ssckelley

        When did the Cubs pick up Brett Wallace?

        • Kyle

          Derp. Brett Marshall.

          • ssckelley

            The Cubs will have to clean up the glut of pitchers they have so eventually someone will have to be let go. But I do hope they get a chance to get a good look at Brett Marshall before making any kind of decision on him. He was a top 10 prospect in the Yankees organization who fell apart in AAA last summer.

            I can’t imagine both Brett Jackson and Matt Szczur will remain on the 40 man roster by the end of spring training. If you bring this guy in Watkins could become expendable as well, he might even clear waivers.

            • mjhurdle

              Babe Watkins clear waivers?

              Not a chance. ;)

              • bbmoney

                how dare you mimic the crushing fist of logic.

              • ssckelley

                You are right, I am sure Sveum would by lobbying hard for the Royals to pick him up.

  • hawkboy64

    Wht not take a3.5 mil flyer on bonafacio they took a 6 mil shot on Scott baker.

    • willis

      Haha, I was just thinking that. They’ve spent more in the past on way less.

  • Pat

    This is one waiver claim I would not oppose, as I think he is a legitimate potential bench upgrade, and could very well have some value at the deadline if he gets off to a good start.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I doubt that we sign him, but it only makes me wonder just how little Barney is worth on the trade market.

    • Kyle

      Well, Barney is better and makes less.

  • another JP

    A $3.5M commitment doesn’t seem like much but with Alcantara & Baez on the doorstep I can’t see the FO going after this guy. He can also play OF but we already have better options at those positions. But once again, many people will look at that 2.8 WAR season he had and be willing to take a shot on him repeating that performance.

  • cubsfan1594

    Who is going to get DFA’d for Jason Hammel’s spot

    • ssckelley

      Good question, I forgot they still have to make room for Hammel.

      • https://www.facebook.com/AnotherSpaceSong Bret Epic

        Didn’t Brett write an article about the Dodgers putting someone on the 60 DL a couple days ago? Could the Cubs do the same with Fujikawa to clear space?

        • Kyle

          Not till camp opens. Dodger camp opened on Saturday. The Cubs’ opens on Thursday.

          • https://www.facebook.com/AnotherSpaceSong Bret Epic

            So it could potentially happen if the Cubs wait until Thursday to make the Hammel signing official. If they end up waiting, it could be a very wise move on the Cubs part.

  • Funn Dave

    I’m for it.

    What does “h/t” mean?

    • Fishin Phil

      It’s probably “hat tip” might be be “huggy tackle”, but I’m going with hat tip.

      • Funn Dave

        I dunno, Brett and Kyle do hug an awful lot….

        • ssckelley

          Well he did say “h/t love” so there could be some hugging going on there.

    • Jon

      tl:dr

    • DarthHater

      horny taco

      • Funn Dave

        How did I not deduce that myself? It seems so obvious now….

  • VittersStartingLF

    Don’t all the AL teams get a chance to claim him before the NL teams?

    • DarthHater

      Nope. Not for this kind of waiver.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        It’s actually because of the time of year – it doesn’t go back to your-league-first until after a few months in the season, IIRC.

        • DarthHater

          I kinda suspected that as soon as I posted, but I was too lazy to check when I knew you guys would do it for me. :-P

    • Kyle

      Not until one month into the regular season.

  • Diehardthefirst

    When I recommended Cubs grab him the minute after released I was in the minority — now all aboard! ??? Oh well – take one for the team is worth it if works

    • DarthHater

      And, the broken clock is right, yet again…

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “When I recommended Cubs grab him the minute after released”

      Well, since he was just placed on release waivers this afternoon …

      If, by chance, you meant grab him after he was DFA’d, that was a fairly different situation, as the expectation at that time was that he would have to be traded for.

      • DarthHater

        Oh! A fact-ball high and inside nails Diehard on the kisser. That’s gotta hurt, but it’s worth it to take one for the team!

      • Diehardthefirst

        Batting .500 still ain’t bad 😄

  • Spriggs

    Is Edwin Maysonet still in the Cubs organization?

    • Jason P

      I believe he is not.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Could the Cubs pick up Bonifacio and just place him on waivers and he passes through waivers, stash him in Iowa? He’d be a really expensive stash but if he hits well in spring training he might make the big league team and provide as a solid utility guy or maybe a decent trade chip at the trade deadline if he plays well in the first half the season. He’s had good seasons in the past

    • Spriggs

      Be careful what you wish for. I remember rooting for Barney to have a good spring, so we wouldn’t have Augie Ojeda on the bench. Look how that worked out. I don’t root for shitty players to have good springs anymore.

      • Serious Cubs Fan

        I’m not really hoping for him to have a good spring. If we did get him, I’d like to have him have hot first half and then trade him off for decent prospect. He’s not a great player but has value as a utility player and is a great base stealing threat that could be be valuable to someone at the trade deadline if he’s hitting well and maybe some team would be willing give a decent prospect for him or we could package him with another player for a solid return.

    • Diehardthefirst

      If pick him up it will make for good competition during spring training which is what you want- heck what if he outplays Castro allowing Cubs to package Castro for better pitching?

  • Blackhawks1963

    He’s an overpriced pinch runner who has worn out his welcome everywhere else. His defensive shortcomings are the main culprit.

    Don’t want him.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Fielding is not his shortcoming: anybody who can play that many positions at all actually is useful, particularly for an NL team. No doubt he grades at average or worse at most of them: but when you don’t play any one position consistently, that is a probable side-effect.

      Bonifacio’s shortcomings are below-average contact skills coupled with below-averge pitch recognition and well-below-average power. Someone putting up 3:1 K:BB ratios had better be hitting a lot of HR: which he does not.

      However, I don’t want him either: so I guess we agree there!

    • Diehardthefirst

      Tell us what you really think

    • gocatsgo2003

      Are there any players or moves you actually like?

      • TWC

        He likes the players who “play the game the right way”.

        • Jon

          We never did get that definition though….

  • Blackhawks1963

    Cubs don’t need a $3.5 million utility player who exasperates an offensive problem of lousy on base skill and who is a defensive liability anywhere you play him. We already have plenty if positional versatility on this club via our wondrous collection of 4 spare outfielder types plus utility types in Valbuena and Barney.

    • ssckelley

      So you trying to say you don’t want Bonifacio? I can’t really tell from your 2 comments that are 20 minutes apart, perhaps 3rd time is a charm.

  • Jason P

    I have doubts Bonifacio would provide us anything Logan Watkins can’t. Except for maybe stolen base speed which isn’t all that valuable anyway. Plus Watkins has a little more pop.

  • cavemancubbie

    We have enough utility/platoon no-hit, low OBP players already. Do we need anymore?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Not more; the question would be, “do the Cubs need any better ones? and is Bonifacio better?”

  • http://bleachernation.com ramy16

    I would definitely take Bonifacio’s speed and ability to get on base! Has glove can’t be that bad! Marlin fans love that guy! With Castro and Bonifacio that would be a pretty good double play tandem..but once again it’s always going to lead up to the front office to pull the trigger

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Bonifacio actually is pretty lousy at getting on base. His walk rate actually is OK (I thought it was much lower!), but his K rate is over 20%. He also has very little power. So, he needs a really high BABiP to maintain a decent overall OBP.

      That written, Brett has the right of it: the question alway is, is X (here, X=Bonifacio) better than what the Team Y (here, the Cubs) currently have? He might be.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Bonafacio is bad at baseball other than running fast. Can’t get on base and is a defensive liability anywhere you play him on the field. He’s Tony Crapana is what he is.

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