Coming into the off-season the most pressing need for the Nationals was to improve the bench. For the most part they’ve done it. The one MLB free agent contract they gave out was to Nate McLouth, a fourth outfielder, and they have signed 25 minor league free agents, many of them utility infielders. Between Danny Espinosa, Jamey Carroll, and Mike Fontenot the Nationals should be able to find a decent enough utility infielder, but the bench still could use some work. The Nationals never got the back-up catcher they wanted and while the depth at utility infielder is impressive all of them come with giant question marks. Jamey Carroll is 40 years old, Danny Espinosa may have too big an ego to accept the role, and Mike Fontenot is not a good enough defender. That means that the Nationals could upgrade that area by getting a known quantity.
With most free agents off the market and only the ones with draft picks attached and bargain bin types left Mike Rizzo and the Nats need a player to fall into their laps and they may have happened when the Royals signed Bruce Chen and designated Emilio Bonifacio for assignment. Bonifacio is a known quantity as a utility player with a career batting line of .262/.322/.340 batting line, solid for a bench player and great for one that can play three infield positions and three outfield positions as well as a stolen base threat. Bonifacio is due over $3 million and that may be why the Royals have been unable to trade him without designating him after they signed Omar Infante, but now they don’t have much of a choice and the return isn’t going to be that great.
It is unsure what the Royals would want back in a trade of Bonifacio but it shouldn’t take more than a minor league pitcher or even cash considerations. Whatever it is that the Royals get back it won’t be a lot and is close to irrelevant in the discussion of acquiring Bonifacio. The Nationals are a team with a need at the position and could use more bench help. Bonifacio’s ability to steal bases makes him a good player for the system that it sounds like Matt Williams wants to use, and aside from being a stolen base threat when starting games or when getting on base when pinch hitting Bonifacio could be used as a late inning pinch runner. The Nats could do the same thing with Nate McLouth or Danny Espinosa but it is always better to have more of those guys and again it is an unknown if Danny Espinosa would accept a utility role.
Bonifacio makes sense for the Nationals. They still need to improve the bench and there is no better way to do that than acquiring a player that fills the weakest remaining spot on the bench, has good numbers for a utility player, and not only can back-up three infield positions but can also play three outfield positions. Bonifacio fits in with both the Nats needs and Matt Williams expected play style. Add it all up and this is a player Mike Rizzo and the Nats should make a run at.