After being designated for assignment by the Kansas City Royals to make room for left-hander Bruce Chen, Emilio Bonifacio cleared release waivers and became a free agent. After reportedly drawing interest from about 10 teams, Bonifacio chose to sign with the Cubs. According to multiple reports, the Chicago Cubs got the super utility guy amazingly on just a minor league contract.
The whole Cubs universe knows this is just a minor league signing, it won`t save an offseason that was very quiet (that could be good or bad depending on who you ask), but nevertheless, this is a fantastic move by the Chicago Cubs. Instead of claiming him on release waivers and paying his $3.5 million salary, he cleared through all 30 teams, ending up getting just a minor league deal. No risk, fairly high reward, and a quite a bit of cash theoretically saved.
Considering it`s a minor league pact, as Brett Taylor at BleacherNation writes, the deal may very well include an opt-out clause. While it is not known right now, it`s a good chance if Bonifacio isn`t on the roster at some point early in the year, he would be able to exercise an opt out and find another team. That chance is very slim, as the Cubs would much rather have Emilio man the bench than, let`s say, Ryan Roberts or Logan Watkins.
Another detail Brett mentions is it is also very possible it`s a MiLB/MLB split in the contract; Bonifacio makes “x” amount of dough if he`s in the minors and “y” amount if he`s with the big league club.
However, the minor leagues are not something Emilio should be concerned with. Bonifacio reportedly turned down multiple MLB offers for the Cubs gig, showing that he believes the Cubs will certainly give him the best chance to start in the majors.
Let`s all hope that Emilio comes out in the spring and shows he can still play the way he did in 2011 when he posted a .296 average with the Miami Marlins and win the starting job out of the gate. If not, he provides fantastic speed, and can basically play every position but catcher and first base.
This signing provides excellent depth if Darwin Barney can`t hit his weight, Mike Olt doesn`t impress in spring and the Cubs need another bench bat, injuries pop up as they always do, the Cubs actually find a trade partner for Darwin Barney, and more. What`s not to love?
Hey don`t forget the trade deadline! As it`s been with pretty much every signing (even minor league deals), you have to consider the chance of a midsummer trade. Bonifacio is not the average minor league signing, you could make the argument he could be a starting 2nd baseman on most teams, so if Bonifacio plays his head out in the first half, who knows. While it won`t likely be a great return, maybe not even good, you have to think about this stuff.
Echoing the words of Brett Taylor at BN, “This is about as good as minor league signings get”. Couldn`t have said it any better myself.