The Yankees have a real mystery on their hands as to how they are going to get through the season with an intact infield. Brian Roberts will probably get hurt, Derek Jeter might not make it through the season, Mark Teixeira will likely be dealing with a wrist injury all season, and Kelly Johnson, or whoever is the regular third baseman in 2014, will likely fall short of whatever Alex Rodriguez could have done. Aside from starting options, they need to figure out who will be playing backup for them. They already have Brendan Ryan, but as an alternative to Eduardo Nunez, the Yankees could acquire Emilio Bonifacio.
The super utilityman switch-hitter wouldn't exactly be a great addition to the team, but he would be a useful one. Bonifacio can play all three outfield positions, which is nice, but he can also play third base, second base, and shortstop. He's not a very good fielder overall, though he rated positively in right field (4 DRS), third base (1 DRS), and put up a 10 DRS at second base in 2013.
What Bonifacio actually does well is very little. In 2011, he stole 40 bases in what was the best season of his career. Since then he's been a below-average bat and his stolen base totals have fallen since then. Still, as a part-time player as he surely will be next year, Bonifacio stole a total of 30 bases in only 274 plate appearances and 64 games. That would have led the Yankees in 2013, and if he's given a decent amount of playing time as a backup to Roberts, and really everyone, he could end up doing it again in 2014, depending on how well Jacoby Ellsbury does.
Obviously, stolen bases doesn't mean value, since he's only been worth exactly one WAR over the last two seasons, but it surely beats what Nunez has done in that same time. According to Steamers, Bonifacio projects to hit .255/.318/.337 with 16 stolen bases and 0.5 WAR, meanwhile, Nunez is projected to hit .257/.307/.363 with seven stolen bases and only 0.1 WAR.
He also has the third highest amount of bunt base hits over the last three seasons, with 34, and the 25th highest total of sacrifice hits (21). That's over 10 more bunts than Brett Gardner and nearly 10 more sacrifices in that time. Those aren't necessarily important skills, but they're easy to take advantage of when someone has them. Bonifacio can bunt and it would be nice to have someone on the team who can actually do that when Joe Girardi inevitably calls for it.
As for 2014 salary, Bonifacio will make $3.5 million; meanwhile Nunez is still not arbitration eligible and will make just over $500,000. Sure, the latter is a steal by comparison, but the Yankees already went over their budget, so tax money shouldn't really be an issue. The Yankees have already extended their official invitations to spring training, but they could always add to that list if the right player becomes available.
Bonifacio isn't good, but what he is, is better than Eduardo Nunez. That doesn't say much, but if the Yankees are really considering Nunez for a role on the 2014, perhaps they're better off gong with Bonifacio instead. He isn't a big get, but he's the better get.
- Saturday night open thread: 2009 Yankees Sporcle Quiz
- How would the Yankees' projected 2014 infield rank historically?
- Will the Yankees make the playoffs in 2014?
- A relatively quick look at the Yankees' non-roster invitees, from Adonis to Zelous: Hitters
- Looking for positives in the Yankees' infield