Tigers Potential Trade Target: Emilio Bonifacio
By John Verburg
The Florida Marlins are moving into a new stadium. Two things. One, it’s about time. That football stadium sucks for baseball. Two, the Marlins are looking to open up the checkbook. So that means they are in the market for guys that they just haven’t been in the market for in the past. They have talked to Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, and word is out they are in the lead for Cuban sensation Yoenis Cespedes. They are rumored to be interested in Carlos Beltran and considering Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols as well. With the possibility of additions, comes the possibility of subtractions.
One of the players that might be getting squeezed in this scenario is clearly Emilio Bonifacio, since his name is in the title of this article. But that isn’t the only reason that I am talking about him. Bonifacio can play all over the diamond. Left field, third base, SS, and CF seem to be favorites, but Bonifacio can play 2nd base as well.
For a more in depth look at Bonifacio follow the jump…….
Bonifacio is a 26 year old swith-hitter who as mentioned plays multiple positions. In 2011 with the Marlins, Bonifacio had himself a strong season, hitting .296 with an OPS of .753. He also stole 40 bases in 51 attempts. The real positive thing Bonifacio displayed is an ability to get on base. He had an OBP of .360 last season but did strike out 129 times in 641 plate appearances. The season was quite a jump for Bonifacio in power numbers. He had 38 extra base hits in 2011, compared to just 18 two years ago when he played regularly as well.
Given that there is quite a big offensive production jump from his past, Bonifacio had never cracked .650 OPS in a season prior to 2011, the Tigers would have to decide if they believe this past season is the player they would get going forward. The one thing that would sway the argument in favor of that happening is Bonifacio’s age. It could very well be that he is beginning to come into his own, and he is entering his prime years. Despite being a little bit on the smallish side, he is pretty sturdy, and we could see double digit home runs if he was playing in a different park than Florida.
The real questionable thing from 2011 is the on-base percentage. His .360 OBP was far and above anything he has ever posted before, though his prior best of .320 was the previous season, again lending to the argument that Bonifacio is coming into his own. His OBP percentage has increased two straight years now.
What would Bonifacio bring to the table?
First and foremost, he would bring some speed to a lineup that desperately needs it. He steals bases at just below an 80% clip over his career. He also takes the extra base at a clip of 58% over his career as well. If he could continue the on-base pace he set last year, or something close to it, Bonifacio would fit in right at the top of the lineup in Detroit and be an asset.
Bonifacio also brings some versatility to the clubhouse as well. His ability to play multiple positions could allow him to sneak into the lineup almost daily by moving around. In effect, he would be a better version of Don Kelly, but get more at-bats. His two best defensive positions at this point are third base and LF, and would certainly be a candidate to at least be the left-handed version of a 3B platoon with Brandon Inge. In fact, his ability to switch hit means he could be an every day option.
The problem with acquiring Bonifacio as I see it is two things. One, the Tigers would be buying high. He is a definite risky acquisition considering he has only had one good year as a big leaguer, and the Tigers would have to be careful not to cough up too much. Secondly, Jim Leyland flat out loves Don Kelly. I don’t think he would green light an acquisition that involved a player that would minimize the role of Don. Getting Bonifacio could very well do that.
I do think that Bonifacio would be an upgrade to Brandon Inge at 3rd base, and even the platoon of Inge and Kelly that it looks like the Tigers will go with at this point, but he has to come at a reasonable price. That could be difficult, but the Marlins aren’t exactly known for pulling off the best trades in recent history. At the very least, Bonifacio is a guy that David Dombrowski should at least inquire about.
Let us know what you think about acquiring Bonifacio in the comments section below….