Why Emilio Bonifacio Makes Sense For San Francisco Giants
At this point in the offseason, it would be seemingly unconventional for GM Brian Sabean to delve back into negotiations to acquire an additional player. However, the Giants failed to address their glaring lack of bench depth this offseason despite realizing the consequences of that in 2013, when several key players suffered significant injuries.
For whatever reason, the Giants’ deep-pocketed investors remain shallow, handicapping Sabean to the point where stockpiling a big league-caliber bench is out of the question.
Bonifacio is exactly what the Giants need. At 28-years old, he showcases substantial upside even though he’s coming off a lackluster season. Bonifacio would supply the Giants with added versatility and speed. He can hit from both sides of the plate and also plays three infield positions.
Bonifacio owns a career .322 on-base percentage with 295 runs scored and 138 stolen bases in seven seasons. He swiped 28 bags while splitting time between two ball clubs in 2013, combining to steal 70 bases in the two seasons prior.
At the moment, the Giants would have to engage in trade talks with the Kansas City Royals in order to acquire Bonifacio, who could become an outright free agent on February 11. Curiously, the Royals previously agreed to a one-year, $3.5 million deal to avoid arbitration with Bonifacio, which makes his impending free agency puzzling from a decision-making standpoint. Why would the Royals avoid going to court with a valuable utility man if they had ideas of granting him an outright release?
It would be foolish for the Giants not to inquire about attaining his talents regardless. San Francisco collectively stole just 67 bases in 2013, ranking 10th in the National League. That number is somewhat deflated due to leadoff hitter Angel Pagan missing nearly 100 games because of a torn hamstring, but the Giants need to be aggressive on the basepaths, especially considering their lack of power.
San Francisco ranked second-to-last in home runs (107) in the NL last season. The addition of slugging outfielder Michael Morse and the probable resurgence of Pablo Sandoval should help increase the Giants’ power potency in 2014, but the differences likely won’t be astounding.
The Giants are doomed for another rough season if they encounter devastating injuries. San Francisco won the World Series in 2012 specifically because they were able to stay healthy for the entirety of the season, above nothing else. That’s a rare feat in the grueling marathon otherwise known as a big league baseball season.
At the moment, the Giants’ bench includes four players: backup catcher Hector Sanchez, speedy outfielder Gregor Blanco, middle infielder Tony Abreu and utility man Joaquin Arias. Three of those players have distinctive roles, but Abreu is expendable. Adding Bonifacio to the mix would grant manager Bruce Bochy more flexibility in late-inning situations and ultimately improve the effectiveness of the Giants’ bench.