Emilio Bonifacio was going to be the Royals tenth man. He was slated to be the Royals super utility player, someone who was not quite a starter, but would likely see almost as many at bats as the typical starting player would, just spread across three or four different positions per week. Yet, once Bruce Chen was signed and Bonifacio was designated for assignment, those thoughts quickly evaporated.
Now, the battle for the Royals utility infielder is likely down to Christian Colon and Pedro Ciriaco. While Colon has played only at second and short during his time in the Royals system, Ciriaco is essentially Bonifacio 2.0 – a player capable of playing virtually anywhere on the field and being able to be at least adequate in the field.
Ciriaco is also essentially the same type of hitter as Bonifacio. He is far more of a speed threat than a power hitter, posting a .277/.307/.385 batting line over his career. Any extra base hits are likely to be doubles, but he does have the speed to be able to turn a single into a double or a double into a triple. Ciriaco has also been rather successful as a basestealer, stealing 27 of 32 bases.
Chances are, due to Pedro Ciriaco being out of options and the Royals being able to send Colon to Omaha, Ciriaco will begin the season as the Royals utility infielder. His presence could also allow the Royals to be creative with their roster, since they would not necessarily need to carry five outfielders or a backup infielder. The Royals could, theoretically, take the players that give them the best chance to win on a consistent basis without having to worry about covering a specific position.
While designating Bonifacio for assignment may not have appeared to make sense at first, the rumors that he was dissatisfied with performing the same super utility role that he had played through most of his career make more sense than the thought that the move was to dump his salary. If that turns out to truly be the case, then potentially replacing Bonifacio with a younger Ciriaco certainly makes sense. At age 28, and having bounced around baseball, Ciriaco is likely hungry to prove that he deserves to be a major league player and to find a place to stay.
Ciriaco did perform relatively well during his one extended trial in the majors, producing a .293/.315/.390 batting line and stealing 16 of 19 bases. Although he may not walk as much as one would want from a slap hitting speedster, Ciriaco could still fill the role of the Royals top reserve.
Pedro Ciriaco has been looking to get his chance to prove that he can be a major league player. Right now, it appears as though the Royals are going to give him that opportunity.