Yesterday marked 21 days since the White Sox made a MLB transaction, which inspired me to work on an article assessing potential depth signings to improve the team. Perhaps the player I focused most on was INF/OF Emilio Bonifacio, who reportedly signed with the Sox today for one year/ $3 million with a club option for $4 million and a $1 million buyout. Of course, this signing forced me to scrap last night's post.
Seeing as the article was not published, I cannot take credit for giving Rick Hahn the idea to sign Bonifacio, unless he has access to the TCS drafts folder and made the decisionbased on that access. This said, it is a shrewd move by Hahn to fix one of the last major holes in this White Sox squad: depth.
Emilio Bonifacio is not a starting-quality second baseman. Though second base remains a position of relative need, Bonifacio’s .259/.305/.345 is pretty valueless at one position. Where he finds a niche is his versatility- last year, Bonifacio played at every position other than catcher, first base, and pitcher. After losing Marcus Semien, who could have been a valuable super-sub, Bonifacio fills a roster spot that was sorely needed.
With ideal roster construction, paying $4 million to a weak bat who provides depth is not necessary. Bonifacio himself was a minor league signing by the Cubs last year, and many teams have in house options to fill his role. With the trade of Semien, the White Sox do not. They also are not in a position where they can afford instability out of their depth, and their willingness to spend reflects that.
Though Semien may have provided value offensively that Bonifacio cannot, Bonifacio’s positional versatility may be more necessary to the 2015 White Sox. While Semien was a defensive mess last season, with little outfield experience, Bonifacio can provide neutral or positive defensive value with the added ability to play center. Considering all three starting outfielders have had injury issues in the past few years, this versatility could be a safety net that keeps the White Sox in contention. Bonifacio is no star, but compared to last year’s injury replacements Jordan Danks and Dayan Viciedo, he is a pretty significant upgrade.
Emilio Bonifacio is not a player that massively changes the White Sox ultimate upside for 2015. In a perfect world, he likely gets less than 400 PAs. That said, he is roster redundancy in multiple places, something of which the Sox were almost entirely devoid in 2014, and a player that could prove invaluable to the 2015 White Sox.