Could Bonifacio Be Odd Man Out For Blue Jays?


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 SportsThe 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?