The Royals will reinstate outfielder Jorge Bonifacio from the restricted list tomorrow, tweets Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com. He’d been serving an 80-game PED suspension and will need to be added back to the 40-man and 25-man roster once activated. The corresponding move, according to Flanagan, will likely involve Ryan Goins. Indeed, Rustin Dodd of The Athletic tweets that Goins was “making the rounds” and shaking his teammates’ hands in the clubhouse after today’s game.
Bonifacio, 25, will likely be given an opportunity to receive regular work in the outfield. The former top prospect had a solid debut in 2017, hitting .255/.320/.432 with 17 homers, 15 doubles and a triple in 422 plate appearances. He logged 743 innings in right field for Kansas City last season, plus another 57 in left and eight in center. Defensive Runs Saved (-3) and Outs Above Average (-4) both pegged him as a slightly below-average defender, while Ultimate Zone Rating (+1.1) viewed him a bit more favorably.
Bonifacio has been able to begin gearing up for his return in the minors over the past two weeks, logging a dozen games with Triple-A Omaha and hitting quite well. Through 54 plate appearances, he’s batting .404/.481/.553 with five doubles and a triple.
The suspension for Bonifacio will prove costly if he is ultimately able to cement himself as a big league regular. He didn’t accrue Major League service time for the 80 games he missed, and by the time he’ll be activated from the disabled list, there won’t be enough days remaining in the season for him to reach a second full year of MLB service. As such, the suspension will push his eligibility for both arbitration and free agency back by a full year. Bonifacio would have been arb-eligible following the 2019 season and qualified as a free agent following the 2022 season. Instead, he’ll now have to wait until after the 2020 season for arbitration and won’t be a free agent until the completion of the 2023 season.
Goins, meanwhile, is out of minor league options, so the Royals can’t send him to the minors unless he first clears waivers. That makes it seem likely that he’ll be designated for assignment tomorrow, though the club could also opt to trade or release him as a means of opening a roster spot for Bonifacio. The 30-year-old Goins has given Kansas City has given the Royals quality defense through 224 innings at second base and has seen brief action at third base and shortstop as well. But, Goins has also struggled to the tune of a .226/.252/.313 batting line in 120 trips to the plate.