Emilio Bonifacio Rumors

Cubs, Emilio Bonifacio Agree To Minors Deal

The Cubs and Emilio Bonifacio are in agreement on a minor league contract, tweets Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. The 30-year-old switch-hitter was recently designated for assignment and released by the White Sox, with whom he had signed a one-year, $4MM contract this winter.

Bonifacio struggled greatly with the White Sox in 2015, hitting just .167/.198/.192 in at plate appearances and missing time on the disabled list due to a left oblique strain. By signing with the Cubs, he’ll return to the team with which he’s had the most recent success in his career. Bonifacio spent most of the 2014 season with the Cubs and batted .279/.318/.373 with a pair of homers and 14 steals.

Bonifacio has been inconsistent throughout his career, but the overall result of his efforts in the Majors is a .259/.316/.337 batting line with 13 homers and 165 stolen bases (in 213 attempts). Bonifacio’s speed is his greatest asset, and that could come in play for the Cubs in September, when he could potentially serve as a late-inning pinch-running option. Bonifacio stole at least 26 bases each season from 2011-14, including 30 steals in just 64 games back in 2012.


White Sox Designate Emilio Bonifacio For Assignment

The White Sox have designated Emilio Bonifacio for assignment, as Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune tweets.  Manager Robin Ventura told reporters, including Kane, that the way Trayce Thompson has played since coming up played into the club’s decision to remove Bonifacio from the 40-man.

Bonifacio, 30, has struggled mightily in 2015.  In 82 plate appearances for the White Sox, the veteran owns a dismal .167/.198/.192.  The versatile Bonifacio has given the White Sox innings at second base, center field, left field, and third base this season, but his performance at the plate has negated his contributions as a utility player.

Bonifacio, a client of agent Gene Mato, signed a one-year, $3MM deal with the White Sox back in January.  That pact included a club option for the 2015 season but he’ll instead collect on a $1MM buyout.  The switch-hitting Bonifacio played second base, third base, shortstop, and all three outfield positions between the Cubs and Braves in 2014, batting .259/.305/.345 with 26 steals in 426 plate appearances along the way.

Bonifacio now joins Jose Dominguez, Chris Capuano, Brad Mills, Drew Stubbs, Garrett Jones, Dale Thayer, Taylor Lindsey, and Justin Masterson in DFA limbo.  To keep track of everyone in DFA limbo, check out MLBTR’s DFA Tracker.

 


Heyman’s Latest: Phillies, C. Johnson, Sellers, Harang, Rays

In his weekly Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports begins by taking a look at a messy situation in Philadelphia. Heyman hears the same rumblings that were first reported by CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury — that Andy MacPhail could very well be in line for an executive role with the Phillies. The hiring of MacPhail would bring into question the status of both GM Ruben Amaro and manager Ryne Sandberg. While one exec notes that no one could have had much success with the hand Sandberg has been dealt, his calm demeanor hasn’t motivated the team much, and he may have lost the clubhouse at this point. Heyman notes that partial owner John Middleton, who is believed by some to be calling the shots in Philly, may have extra impetus to get a new decision-maker in the door so that a lame-duck GM (Amaro’s contract expires at season’s end) isn’t the primary decision-maker on what could be a franchise-altering Cole Hamels trade. Speaking of Hamels, Heyman notes that interested teams will want to see him pitch at least twice now that he had a start pushed back due to a hamstring strain, thinning the window of opportunity to trade him. As far as Jonathan Papelbon goes, the belief is that he’d approve any trade that sent him to a contending team, though the Cubs might be his preferred fit at this point if he had a say in the matter.

Some more highlights from Heyman’s latest (though there’s more in the column than we can cover here)…

  • The Braves have tried to trade Chris Johnson and even offered to substantially pay down the remaining money on his contract, but there’s been little interest. The Johnson deal was widely questioned from the start, and there’s still about $21MM owed to Johnson through the end of the 2017 season. Johnson’s a viable weapon against lefties, but he’s a sub-par hitter against right-handed pitchers and is not well-regarded from a defensive standpoint.
  • Rival teams are beginning to wonder if the Red Sox might sell some pieces this summer, with Mike Napoli, Clay Buchholz and Koji Uehara among the possible names listed by Heyman. Napoli isn’t hitting for average but has shown good power and a nice walk rate. Buchholz has improved after a rocky start and Uehara again has strong numbers in the ‘pen.
  • The White Sox are beginning to think about selling, Heyman hears, but they’re not quite ready to move their bigger pieces. Emilio Bonifacio might be the first name they make available, but eventually, Jeff Samardzija‘s name could be out there. Heyman writes that while Samardzija isn’t pitching well in 2015, his big arm is so tantalizing to scouts that there will still be interest in him.
  • The Reds aren’t expected to sell until after the All-Star Game and would be very open to shedding Brandon Phillips‘ contract, per Heyman, though I have a difficult time envisioning too many teams lining up to take on the remainder of that deal. Phillips is owed about $34.1MM through the end of the 2017 season and has seen his power more or less vanish. Heyman speculates that Everth Cabrera could be a fit in Cincinnati with Zack Cozart out for the year, and there’s some logic to that scenario, though they may first prefer to see what they have in Eugenio Suarez. The Mets aren’t interested in Cabrera, he adds later.
  • The Marlins aren’t selling yet, according to GM-turned-manager Dan Jennings. “We’re in it, we’re not jumping off the ship. No doubt about that,” Jennings told Heyman. If their attitude changes, Heyman thinks they’ll find interest in Martin Prado and Mike Dunn.
  • The Astros like Aaron Harang but are said to be aiming higher when looking at potential trade targets to bolster their rotation.
  • The Dodgers are on the hunt for a top-tier starting pitcher and a late-inning arm to help bridge the gap to Kenley Jansen. In other Dodgers-related news, Heyman hears that No. 35 pick Kyle Funkhouser is strongly considering returning to Louisville. Funkhouser was once looked at as a potential Top 10 pick, but he fell to a slot with a $1.756MM value. He’d have less leverage in 2016 as a senior sign, of course, but he could certainly improve his draft stock and his bonus with a big senior year.
  • Yankees chief international officer/executive vice president Felix Lopez is no longer listed on the team’s web site and some indicate that he’s been gone from the organization for three months, Heyman writes. Lopez was said to have angered Yoan Moncada‘s camp after calling to express displeasure with their decision to sign in Boston over New York. The team hasn’t made a statement on his departure.
  • The Rays are looking for first base help with James Loney on the disabled list, but Loney’s said to be returning around the All-Star break. Heyman speculates on the possibility of Ryan Howard ending up in Tampa Bay if the Phillies eat some or all of the contract, but I’d think there’d be something of a logjam there once Loney is activated in that scenario.


White Sox To Sign Emilio Bonifacio

9:00am: Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3MM in 2015, and the option is valued at $4MM with a $1MM buyout.

8:36am: Bonifacio’s contract also contains a club option for the 2016 season, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link).

8:08am: The White Sox and utility man Emilio Bonifacio have agreed to a one-year, $4MM contract, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter).

Bonifacio, a client of agent Gene Mato, will give the White Sox another option at second base following the trade of Marcus Semien to Oakland. Currently, Micah Johnson and Carlos Sanchez figure to battle for that spot, though the 29-year-old Bonifacio could conceivably land the gig outright if Chicago would like its pair of prospects to gather additional playing time in the minors before seeing regular big league at-bats.

If Johnson or Sanchez is the preferred choice out of Spring Training, the Sox will have a highly versatile utility player on their hands in Bonifacio at a reasonable price for someone that can handle a wide array of positions. The switch-hitting Bonifacio played second base, third base, shortstop and all three outfield positions between the Cubs and Braves last season, batting .259/.305/.345 with 26 steals in 426 plate appearances along the way.

The addition of Bonifacio continues a busy offseason for White Sox GM Rick Hahn and his staff. The South Siders have already added free agents Melky Cabrera, David Robertson, Adam LaRoche and Zach Duke in addition to swinging a trade for former A’s/Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija. That’s $132MM in free agent spending, and if MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz’s $9.5MM projection for Samardzija holds true, it’ll total out to $141.5MM in total spending — $53MM of which will be on the books for the 2015 season. Beyond that, the ChiSox have added a number of notable names on minor league contracts this season, including veteran righty Brad Penny, outfielder Tony Campana and catcher George Kottaras.


AL Notes: Ryan, Hunter, Miller, Bonifacio, Front Office

Twins GM Terry Ryan is “doing well” after his bout with throat cancer, writes MLB.com’s Barry Bloom. The 61-year-old still is experiencing various forms of discomfort, but has completed radiation and is back at full force in the Minnesota front office.

Here’s more out of the American League:

  • The Tigers will not pursue Torii Hunter after inking Victor Martinez and trading for Anthony Gose, GM Dave Dombrowski told reporters today, including George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press. “I called and said it just didn’t look like it was going to fit the way the club was getting put together,” Dombrowski said. “Thanked him for everything. Absolutely love him. If something changes where we make some changes for one reason or another, that we’re not anticipating, we would still be open. It’s just probably not much of a fit right now.” Hunter indicated in an Instagram post that he still intends to play in 2015.
  • The Blue Jays recently met with free agent lefty Andrew Miller, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter. Miller figures to be a highly sought-after relief weapon. Toronto has definite pen needs, as Nicholson-Smith’s colleague, Shi Davidi, told me on this week’s podcast, and as MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk wrote in previewing the club’s offseason.
  • Free agent utility man Emilio Bonifacio is receiving interest from his former teams, including the Blue Jays and Royals, Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com tweets. (Cotillo also lists the Cubs as a team with possible interest.) Bonifacio should have his pick of situations given his versatility and place on the market.
  • The Red Sox have promoted Mike Rikard to become the team’s scouting director, according to a tweet from Clint Longenecker, formerly of Baseball America. He replaces Amiel Sawdaye, who will be promoted to a vice president role, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal (via Twitter). Longenecker himself is moving on to join the Indians, Baseball America’s John Manuel tweets.

Emilio Bonifacio Changes Agents

Super-utility player Emilio Bonifacio has decided to change agents in advance of his coming free agency, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reports on Twitter. Bonifacio has moved from Paul Kinzer to Gene Mato, according to Dierkes.

The 29-year-old switch-hitter delivers much of his value through baserunning and defensive versatility. A consistent threat to swipe thirty bags, Bonifacio ranks 12th in all of baseball since 2011 in the baserunning component of Fangraphs’ WAR calculation. In his eight seasons of MLB action, Bonifacio has seen extensive time at both middle infield spots, center field, and third base.

Bonifacio is somewhat less accomplished with the bat, of course. His 2014 production — .259/.305/.345 over 426 plate appearances — is not far off from his career line of .262/.319/.341, which is approximately 20% below the league average rate. Bonifacio put up a .753 OPS in his best season as a hitter, his 2011 campaign with the Marlins, though that was fueled by a .372 BABIP. (His career mark is .331.)

Mato will face an interesting challenge in finding Bonifacio a new home. In the aggregate, he seems likely to draw wide interest given his age and broad skillset. It is easy to see any number of expected contenders seeking to add Bonifacio as a bench piece, while other clubs may want to move him around as they introduce young players — with the added bonus that he could once more be a summer trade chip.

As always, be sure to reference MLBTR’s Agency Database for the most up-to-date information on current player representatives. If you see any errors or omissions, please let us know via email: mlbtrdatabase@gmail.com.


Braves Acquire James Russell, Emilio Bonifacio

3:38pm: ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers tweets that the Cubs are sending cash to Atlanta as well. It will be about $1MM going to Atlanta, tweets Wittenmyer.

3:33pm: Wittenymyer tweets that a minor league catcher is headed to Chicago. Peter Gammons tweets that Chicago receives Victor Caratini from Atlanta.

3:24pm: The Braves have acquired left-hander James Russell and utilityman Emilio Bonifacio from the Cubs, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (on Twitter).

James Russell

Russell, 28, has posted a 3.51 ERA with 7.0 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 and a career-best 40.9 percent ground-ball rate. While he’s picking up more grounders than ever, Russell has also shown the worst command of his career — a trend he will hope to correct with the Braves. Russell has typically handled left-handed hitters pretty well, but the opposite has been true in 2014; right-handed batters have a meager .364 OPS against Russell, while same-handed batters have an alarming .295/.358/.525 batting line against him. In his career, however, lefties have batted .240/.276/.416 against Russell. He is earning just $1.9MM in 2014 and is controlled through 2015.

The switch-hitting Bonifacio, 29, had a solid debut season for the Cubs before being included in the trade. He’s hitting .279/.318/.373 with a pair of homers and 14 steals (in 20 attempts). Defensive metrics have liked his work at second base, third base and in center field this season, though his career marks aren’t as strong.

Bonifacio had an interesting offseason, as he was tendered a contract by the Royals and agreed to a $3.5MM salary before being released (and subsequently paid only a portion of his still non-guaranteed deal). The speedster latched on with the Cubs in Spring Training and played well, though he’s spent a portion of the year on the disabled list.

As for Caratini, he was a second-round pick by the Braves in 2013 and ranked as the organization’s No. 7 prospect on MLB.com’s midseason top 20 list. The 20-year-old Caratini has batted .279/.352/.406 in 87 games at Class-A this season. He’s a switch-hitting catcher who also plays third base. Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com feel that he’s a good enough defender to handle either position, but clearly he would have more value behind the dish. Though Callis and Mayo praise his defense, they feel that his bat is a better tool.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Cubs Moving Closer To Bonifacio Trade

TODAY, 12:04am: Also in on Bonifacio as of this morning were the Pirates, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

11:13am: There is plenty of action on Bonifacio, who is being pursued currently by the Orioles, Giants, and Mariners, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.

Bonifacio is a backup option for the Mariners, along with Chris Denorfia, tweets Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Seattle prefers to add Alex Rios or Ben Zobrist.

YESTERDAY, 8:12pm: It does not appear that the Giants are going to acquire Bonifacio, according to a tweet from Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.

6:42pm: The Royals are not yet close to adding Bonifacio, tweets Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star.

5:48pm: The O’s are not in on Bonifacio, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, who hears that the versatile fielder could be returning to Kansas City. Needless to say, that would be an interesting turn of events: Bonifacio finished well last year with Kansas City, was tendered a contract, agreed to a salary to avoid arbitration, and was then released before the start of the season.

5:14pm: At present, the Giants, Orioles, and Reds are all in play for Bonifacio, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

4:50pm: Bonifacio has been told to be prepared for a deal today, tweets Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.

4:42pm: Bonifacio is indeed not in the lineup, with manager Rick Renteria saying it was “prudent” to hold him out, according to Rogers (Twitter link).

2:50pm: The Cubs are getting close to trading Bonifacio, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. Levine tweets that Bonifacio is not in tonight’s lineup, which could obviously signal that a deal is nigh. Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle hears that the Giants have been scouting Bonifacio all week, but the asking price for the impending free agent is said to be high.

2:32pm: The Orioles are Giants are considering Cubs utility man Emilio Bonifacio as a trade option, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney.  Bruce Levine of 670 The Score adds the Royals, Mariners, and Reds as three more potential suitors (All Twitter links).

Bonifacio, 29, is hitting .279/.318/.373 in 298 plate appearances for the Cubs.  The switch-hitter is raking against lefties in this year’s limited sample.  He’s mainly played center field and second base for the Cubs.  Bonifacio is eligible for free agency after the season.


Central Rumors: Russell, Colon, Burnett, Bonifacio, Pirates

The Cubs are a bit lacking in starting pitching depth following the trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, but lefty reliever James Russell suggested one name to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times that could help alleviate the problem: his own name. “There’s still not a doubt in my mind that I could [start],” said Russell, who was drafted as a starter. Russell acknowledged that he may not get the opportunity to start with the Cubs, because they may prefer to keep him in a relief role or because they may trade him this week. He adds that he’s stated his case with the front office multiple times to return to the rotation, and he’d be open to doing so again with another club if they felt he could handle the role.

More from the game’s central divisions …

  • The Royals have at least some interest in both Mets starter Bartolo Colon and Phillies hurler A.J. Burnett, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Martino had noted yesterday that there was no action on Colon. Though it is not yet clear how serious the interest is, the club likes both righties. One major issue for Kansas City, of course, is payroll, and Martino adds that the club may not be in a position to take on the salary (and significant future obligations) owed to Colon and Burnett. New York is said to be amenable to paying $2MM of Colon’s tab, but he is earning $9MM this year and comes with a guaranteed $11MM salary next year. Burnett, meanwhile, is making $7.5MM this year (in addition to a $7.5MM signing bonus) and comes with an option that will likely turn into a $12.75MM player option.
  • Emilio Bonifacio isn’t letting himself worry about the possibility of being traded by the Cubs, but Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago spoke to one NL official who feels that the utilityman would be a perfect last-minute addition on Thursday before the deadline. Rogers notes that if Bonifacio is traded, it could lead to a much-anticipated call-up for Javier Baez, wish Arismendy Alcantara manning center through season’s end and Baez taking over at the keystone. Currently, Bonifacio splits time between second and center.
  • The Pirates remain on the lookout for a left-handed reliever, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Pittsburgh has been rumored to have interest in severable available southpaws, including Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies and Andrew Miller of the Red Sox.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.


Central Notes: Pirates, Ruggiano, Pirates, Bastardo

If the Pirates can’t land a reliever this week, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review suggests that the Bucs could move Edinson Volquez to the bullpen.  Volquez, who has hit 98 mph on the gun this season, has been trending down since April. More from the Central Divisions..