Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Emilio Bonifacio Designated for Assignment by Royals

The Royals officially announced the signing of Bruce Chen this morning, and in a corresponding move to clear a 40 man roster spot, utility player Emilio Bonifacio has been designated for assignment.

Bonifacio came over to the Royals in August last season, and performed quite well in 42 games, almost exclusively at second base. His .285/.352/.348 batting line was good enough for a wRC+ of 96 in 179 plate appearances. Bonifacio also was a terrific baserunner, stealing 16 bases in 18 attempts. Following the season, it seemed like Bonifacio would have a chance to come into 2014 as the favorite to once again be the starter at the keystone, but that all changed when the team signed Omar Infante.

After the Infante signing, Bonifacio appeared to be headed for the team’s super utility position, a role in which he could provide depth all over the diamond. However, the organization must have felt that his $3.5 million salary was not worth the value he would bring to the table. Also, the Royals must have faith that players like Pedro Ciriaco and Christian Colon could potentially perform at a similar level in that utility role, at a fraction of the cost, making Bonifacio more expendable. Plus, there were some rumors that Bonifacio would not be fond of his bench role, so Dayton Moore decided parting ways now would be the best way to go.

While I’m fine with shedding unnecessary payroll, this move confuses me. Bonifacio’s salary is now just going to Chen, so the team doesn’t have any more financial flexibility with which to work. I’ve advocated trading Bonifacio before, but the end goal should be to take that saved money and add higher-end talent elsewhere, and this move, on its surface, seems like a cost-cutting measure.

More than likely, another team will claim Bonifacio now that he is exposed to waivers, and I would expect a trade to be worked out in the next week. We’ll have to wait and see what kind of return he brings to fully evaluate the move, although my guess is that it won’t be much, since the Royals have probably been trying to trade Bonifacio for some time now. Ciriaco – who is without options – and Colon should be battling it out for the utility spot when spring training begins in a couple of weeks.

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