Jun 7, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Texas Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski (12) goes to tag out Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Emilio Bonifacio (1) in the fifth inning at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Could Bonifacio Be Odd Man Out For Blue Jays?

The return of Jose Reyes to the Toronto Blue Jays line-up is inevitable. The injured shortstop has now appeared in two rehab games with Single-A Dunedin, going 3 for 8 in the process, and is expected to be sent to either Double-A New Hampshire or Triple-A Buffalo as the next step on his way back to Toronto.

That leaves the Blue Jays with a tough choice as to what happens with the plethora of back-up infielders they currently have on the roster.

That said, it will not be an easy decision for the Blue Jays, as quite honestly, none of the group that include Maicer Izturis, Mark DeRosa, Emilio Bonifacio, or Munenori Kawasaki have stepped up in any capacity to:

(a) Claim the starting job at second base.
(b) Claim the starting job at third base while Brett Lawrie is injured.
(c) Show their worth as an utility infielder when everyone is healthy.

The problem is, each has some merits with which to win the job.

Emilio Bonifacio has the speed that teams covet and has the capability of playing both in the infield and spelling any of the outfielders. However, that speed has been negated by a complete inability to get on base (.233 OBP) and a propensity for striking out (24%). He has a wRC+ of just 44, which is quite frankly atrocious.

Munenori Kawasaki took the Blue Jays fan base by storm, but his marketing ability is not likely going to guarantee him a roster spot. That said, his .332 on-base percentage is the highest of the group and his fielding ability is significantly better than either Izturis and Bonifacio. Still, a transition to second base would not be a given, but it is also not outside the realm of possibility.

Mark DeRosa brings the most power to the plate, and his wRC+ of 96 is the closest to average of any player in this discussion. He has also filled in nicely for Brett Lawrie at third base and gotten better with extended playing time. Still, DeRosa represents just as much risk now as he did when the Blue Jays originally signed him; He is an injury waiting to happen at any time.

Finally, we have Maicer Izturis, who has his own downfalls. Like Bonifacio, he has been inept with the bat in 2013, having a wRC+ of 57, a .259 OBP, and and a -1.2 fWAR. However, Izturis also sports a lowly .229 BABIP, which says that luck hasn’t helped him much either. That’s begun to show a bit, as Maicer has hit .333 with 4 runs and 5 RBI over the last 8 games. He can also play all around the infield and has shown that he is adjusting to playing on turf in recent games.

So with that all in mind, the Blue Jays have quite the task in front of them in choosing the best of the bunch from the aforementioned group. The Blue Jays do have minor league options available on Munenori Kawasaki, which helps to make the choice easier. However, given the urgency with which the team is not playing and the need for them to sustain that momentum, Kawasaki may not be the clear cut here.

In my mind, that falls on Bonifacio.

His speed and ability to play in the outfield are easily his best attributes. However, speed gets completely negated when you are not getting on base to utilize it, and his ability to play the outfield is made less important with Rajai Davis once again healthy and Anthony Gose available at Triple-A if needed.

At this stage in the season, Toronto needs to make decisions based on what makes them the most successful on the field. Bonifacio is not a long-term need for the Blue Jays and may garner some (read here as “really minor) interest on the trade market.

Who do you think goes when Jose Reyes return?

Who goes when Jose Reyes returns?

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Tags: Toronto Blue Jays

  • Dion Chin

    In my honest opinion, DeRosa

    • malna

      DeRosa may be our best 2B right now…..

      • Paul Miller

        Agreed. What kind of message does it send to the clubhouse if they send down DeRosa? Not going to happen.

      • Kevin Bertsch

        Geez, how bad is Negrych at 2B that you completely ignore a guy who’s hitting .338/.398/.480 at AAA for any of Boni/Izzy/Wasabi?

    • CashGameND

      im more concerned with losing the veteran clubhouse leadership. it may not seem like much, but i think it goes a long way having a guy like that in the clubhouse.

  • Andrew van Laar

    I don’t want to see him go down, but it will be Kawasaki. Theres no way that we carry three infielders and one outfielder on the bench plus he is the only one with options. AA won’t trade a very good player at his absolute lowest value.

    • malna

      Agreed. The only way I see it happening is if we go with a smaller bullpen, which we have not really done over the last two years (but we have also not really had good SP over this time, so 8 man BP has been necessary).

  • revolu888

    kawasaki is going to get optioned to buffalo

    • CashGameND

      no way he gets through waivers

      • CashGameND

        my mistake, as i read below somebody said kawasaki has an option. thats extremely significant, he’ll be the one to go – you are right

        • malna

          Yeah exactly, the team is really limited to sending Kawasaki or Wagner down, as you suggest above. I just don’t see DeRosa, Boni, Itzu clearing waivers (not that you would want any of them gone anyways, as you suggest below), especially since we have a recent precedent: Was it last week that the Padres traded for Pedro Ciriaco after the Red Sox DFA’d him, as he wasn’t going to clear waivers down to the Padres? Again, there is just no way I see DeRosa, Boni, Itzu going anywhere as they have no trade value and won’t clear waivers. As you mention below, if this team is making a stretch run, guys like Derosa will be key. Role players like Boni, Itzu, Davis will be key. These guys go nowhere unless our doors are blown off in the trade market (or they are included in another trade), or the end of the season approaches.

          • CashGameND

            not gonna lie. I’m hoping with the way EE has played 3rd they are giving strong consideration to bringing in a big veteran bat down the stretch here. There is room for him in the lineup at pretty much any position as long as the jays are willing to move EE to 3rd and put lawrie at 2nd (and lawrie needs to spend a bunch of time in the minors before returning in my opinion, learn how to be more selective at the plate & start jumping out of his swing. Might as well get lots of practice in at 2nd base while there). If they make those moves, they could bring in a player to play literally any position or just DH, that is a great opportunity to bring in 1 more big bat in the starting lineup! God I hope they just keep playing this way & it could happen

          • CashGameND

            and more to the point above, thats where kawasaki/izturis/wang/romero/happ or even morrow for the right price, might come into play for a chance to get an excellent bat in the starting lineup. not to mention the reliever depth, we have built some pretty good trade assets who are very affordable too

          • lawries_helmet

            how about trading oliver?

  • Justin Jay

    Kawasaki has the option, so they’ll use it. But as BABIP is a luck stat, there’s no saying that luck will turn around for Izturis. Since his fielding is not much better than Boni and Boni’s a better choice for a pinch runner at the very least end of contributing, I think Izturis goes if they keep Kawasaki

    • malna

      Exactly. The only player mentioned here that can be sent to the minors without losing him is Kawasaki, as he is the only one with minor league options remaining.

    • CashGameND

      ahhhhh, he has an option, first i heard that. good to know, he’ll def. be the one to go then. thanks!

  • CashGameND

    i want to vote for wagner….

    if the starters keep pitching this way I see no reason why they can’t send down Wagner, hes the only 1 with an option (besides loup, but that isn’t happening) and its only a matter of time before somebody else gets hurt & makes room for him to return.

    • malna

      Great call as well. Depending on the SP performance, I can totally see us sending a BP guy down, while keeping as many bats as possible. We haven’t had a useful/deep bench in quite some time, and Gibbons has shown that he will get everyone in play.

    • lawries_helmet

      or trade one of the lefties….

  • lawries_helmet

    actually, would vote none of the above and go back to a 7 man bullpen now that starting looks decent.

  • Paul Miller

    Does Boni have any options left? Giving him a full time job down in Buffalo might help him.