The KC Royals never seem to close the door completely on former players. They brought Zack Greinke back last season after an absence of almost a dozen years, and he's a Royal again this year. Their reunion with Greg Holland began in 2020 and lasted two seasons. Wade Davis returned for the 2021 campaign. Mike Moustakas couldn't find a free agent deal to his liking after 2017 and re-signed with the club for 2018, only to be dealt to Milwaukee at that campaign's trade deadline.
Thursday, in an exhibition contest with Great Britain's World Baseball Classic team, the Royals' latest reunion officially commenced when, in the sixth inning, Jorge Bonifacio, whose recent signing went almost entirely undetected, replaced right fielder and MLB Pipeline's No. 1 KC prospect Gavin Cross in right field.
Bonifacio, now 29, hadn't appeared in a game as a Royal since June 19, 2019, when he went 2-for-4 against Seattle. It was only his fifth game since the club recalled him from Triple-A Omaha, and he found himself back with the Storm Chasers two days later. Kansas City then released him in late November.
The once-promising outfielder's Thursday return was a quiet one. He flew out in his only at-bat.
What is the reasoning behind the KC Royals bringing Jorge Bonifacio back?
Why the Royals signed Bonifacio is a bit of a mystery. Yes, injuries to outfielders Drew Waters and Diego Hernandez will keep them out of action for quite some time, but the club already has Kyle Isbel, Edward Olivares, and a host of young outfield prospects. And they recently signed veteran Jackie Bradley Jr.
Perhaps Kansas City senses Bonifacio can regain the form he displayed as a Royal rookie in 2017 when he hit 17 homers and batted .255 in 113 games; although he's managed only six major league home runs since (he missed 80 games in 2018 serving a PEDS suspension) he's clubbed 32 in the minors over the past two seasons. His career big league line, covering three years with the Royals, 30 games with Detroit in 2020, and seven with the Phillies in 2021, is .242/.312/.393.
His bat, then, doesn't seem to commend Bonifacio well to another stint with KC. But regardless of how he hits, Bonifacio's glove is a problem. His career -14 DRS and -6 OAA render him a defensive liability for a club that historically prides itself on stellar defense.
Maybe the Royals simply consider bringing Bonifacio aboard on a minor league deal worth the low financial risk the deal presents.
We shall see.