The Royals announced that they’ve designated outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, catcher Nick Dini and right-handers Conner Greene and Arnaldo Hernandez for assignment in advance of tonight’s deadline to set 40-man rosters prior to December’s Rule 5 Draft. Those four roster spots will go to left-hander Foster Griffin, right-hander Carlos Hernandez, shortstop Jeison Guzman and outfielder Nick Heath, each of whom has had his contract formally selected, per the team. Kansas City’s 40-man roster is full.
Bonifacio, 26, was the team’s primary right fielder in 2017 and gave fans some cause for optimism, hitting .255/.320/.432 with 17 homers, 15 doubles and a triple in that rookie campaign. He’s since been tagged with an 80-game PED suspension, however, and has generally struggled to produce at the plate. Over his past 291 plate appearances in the Majors, Bonifacio hit .234/.317/.371. For a defensively limited corner outfielder who is out of minor league options, that lack of output was no longer sufficient enough to keep his place on the roster.
Greene, also 26, was claimed off waivers from the Cardinals late last November — nearly a year ago to the day. The once-well-regarded prospect struggled to a 5.13 ERA in 112 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, though, averaging 4.3 walks per nine innings pitched along the way. His control issues expanded beyond walks, as he plunked nine batters and threw a whopping 21 wild pitches.
Dini made his MLB debut at the age of 26 this past season but hit just .196/.270/.357 in 64 plate appearances with Kansas City. He’s a lifetime .288/.347/.437 in five minor league seasons who hit .296/.370/.565 in last year’s supercharged Triple-A environment.
Arnaldo Hernandez, 23, tossed 23 sharp innings in Double-A but was hammered for a 6.39 ERA with a dismal 65-41 K/BB ratio and 24 homers allowed in just 105 1/3 Triple-A innings.
Griffin, 24, was a first-round pick in 2014 and has gone unselected in prior Rule 5 Drafts. He didn’t post particularly appealing Triple-A numbers in ’19 (5.23 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 4.4 BB/9) but notch a 49.2 percent grounder rate. He’s also impressed in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, tossing 23 1/3 innings of 2.31 ERA ball with a hearty 31-to-6 K/BB ratio.
Hernandez, 22, posted a 3.50 ERA with a 43-to-9 K/BB ratio in 35 innings with the Royals’ Class-A affiliate. Guzman didn’t hit much in A-ball and isn’t considered among the organization’s top prospects, but the Royals are bullish enough to protect him from being selected. Heath didn’t have much power, but he’s a prototypical Royals player, as evidenced by his 60 steals between Double-A and Triple-A in 2019.