In a time of specialized relievers and expanded bullpens, bench spots are at a premium. If a team can find a player that can play all over the field, that provides a lot more value than someone who can play only one or two positions at most. That position flexibility is a major reason why someone like Emilio Bonifacio is so valuable, since he can play six different positions and only take up one roster spot.
The Royals bench is likely to consist of Bonifacio, a backup catcher and a fourth outfielder. The biggest question mark heading into Spring Training may be as to who will take that final bench spot. Will the Royals go with five outfielders, leaving Bonifacio as the only backup infielder on the roster? Or will they look to have another utility infielder, so that Bonifacio does not need to play four or five times a week? Another option may end up being Pedro Ciriaco, a player who has displayed an ability to play virtually everywhere on the diamond.
Ciriaco has bounced around, as the Royals are his fifth organization. He had been the definition of AAA depth, being shuttled between the majors and the minors every season aside from his time with the Red Sox in 2012. However, during his time in the majors, Ciriaco has shown that he could potentially be similar to Bonifacio. He has a .277/.307/.385 batting line in his career, with 27 stolen bases in 32 attempts.
Pedro Ciriaco is certainly not a perfect player. Most of his extra base hits are due to his speed instead of any actual power, and he does not make nearly as much contact as one would like. Ciriaco also does not walk as much as would befit someone with his speed. However, Ciriaco has played every infield position and has also played all over the outfield. Sound familiar?
Another factor in Ciriaco cracking the lineup may be that he is out of minor league options. In order to get Ciriaco to Omaha, he would need to pass through waivers. Teams in need of a utility player who could play all over the diamond while contributing solid speed to the lineup would likely sign Ciriaco in hopes that he could turn into another Emilio Bonifacio.
Barring a trade, Pedro Ciriaco may be a longshot to be the 25th man on the Royals roster. However, if he does manage to claim that role, he could provide a valuable depth option, capable of playing almost every position on the diamond. If nothing else, that versatility could get him a long look in Spring Training.