Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Bon(ifacio) Voyage, Emilio!

We feel you Boni. We don't understand either.

Before we start, I would just like to acknowledge that I too hate myself for that title. Let's just move past it together, just as together we will move on from the Emilio Bonifacio era in Toronto.

That's right Jays fans, those of you clamouring for Anthopoulos to "trade Bonifacio for a bag of balls" have got your wish. Earlier today, Bonifacio was shipped to Kansas City for, well, pretty much a bag of balls. Cash or a player to be named later will be coming back the Jays' way, so this is pretty much a move for a roster spot and a little something of something, which is totally fine under the circumstances.

After Bonifacio beat out an infield chopper in Monday afternoon's game against Oakland, I summed up my feelings on Bonifacio thusly:

 His speed and positional versatility made him a tantalizing player off the bench, especially if he had been capable of approaching his numbers from the 2011 season in which he hit .296/.360/.393 and stole 40 bases in 51 attempts. Unfortunately, he's dramatically underperformed his career numbers across the board, let alone his personal best 2011. In 2013 he's hit .218/.258/.321 for a brutal .256 wOBA and 55 wRC+. He's obviously still as fast as anyone, but he hasn't been able to use his wheels effectively this year because, as the saying goes, you can't steal first. Even when he got on base he didn't run especially well, having stolen twelve bags but getting caught six times. Positional versatility isn't worth much unless you can actually field the positions competently, and that rarely seemed to be the case with Bonifacio this year. He's provided the Blue Jays no value at all in 2013, having posted a -0.4 fWAR.

Now, he's been unceremoniously shipped out of town at the end of a losing season for, most likely, next to nothing. That's a long way to have fallen from the off-season when AA was going around saying he wouldn't have made the Marlins trade without Bonifacio being included. I understand the potential Anthopoulos saw when he acquired him and don't quite understand how he's managed to fall off such a tall cliff, but it is what it is. Good luck in Kansas, Emilio!

It's hardly a blockbuster move, but I like it all the same. If the Jays are going to be serious about contending in 2014 they need to start seeing who they might have in the system that can help towards that goal, either with their play or as a trade chip. Bonifacio is making $2.6 million this year and is arbitration eligible for the last time this off-season. With how poorly he's played he was a pretty solid non-tender candidate. The Jays have made that decision the Royals' problem and even got a little something for their efforts.

Also, with Colby hitting the DL today and Bonifacio on his way to Kansas, the Jays have the roster space to call up Kevin Pillar (and some Japanese guy that will be starting at second tonight) with Anthony Gose expected to be up shortly.

Gose has struggled in AAA this year, hitting .239/.312/.337, but has apparently shown improvement of late. His floor is pretty much a speedy fourth outfielder so with Bonifacio gone and Rajai likely to depart as a free agent, they might as well see if he can be that or more for them next year. If not, his prospect stock will take a huge hit as it would mean repeating AAA for the third time which, even as young as Gose is, is never a good sign.

Pillar is a fun story. He was picked in the 32nd round and has outperformed expectations at every level he's played at. None of his tools stand out as exceptional, but he's reportedly well rounded in the speed and defense department with a high average/low power offensive profile. He's posted a .299/.341/.493 line in AAA with 39 doubles in 2013 between AA and AAA. The feeling is that as unheralded as he was, he's played his way past Gose on the depth chart. That came true today as Pillar got the first call up, and will be starting for the Jays in left tonight. Prediction: Loads of talk about heart, grit, and playing baseball the right way from Buck and Tabby. Fans will love him. Reed Johnson comp.

Anyway, I take this as a signal that Anthopoulos is starting to look towards 2014 and I welcome that. Now if only anyone could answer the burning question that nobody seems to be asking:

With Bonifacio gone, do the Blue Jays get to keep the Lo Viste?

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