The Phillies' shopping list is mostly complete, minus one thing: a backup center fielder, preferably one who can hit right-handed. When Ben Revere went down with an injury last season, the Phillies used a combination of John Mayberry, a corner outfielder, and Cesar Hernandez, a second baseman, to fill the void. So far this offseason, a true backup plan has eluded the Phillies. But they may have an option now, finally, and one that could give them a lot more than depth in center field.
On Phillies.com, Todd Zolecki described the Phillies remaining need with a quote from the GM that shows the Phillies are looking:
At the moment, it appears any more players that come to camp will come on Minor League deals. Amaro said he continues to look for a center fielder to play behind Ben Revere, although that might have to come in a trade.
"We'd like to see if we can upgrade there," Amaro said.
Here is their chance.
Today the Kansas City Royals designated for assignment long-time Phillies foe Emilio Bonifacio. Bonifacio is a versatile player with speed who hits from both sides from the plate, who has at times held down starting positions for the Florida Marlins and the Toronto Blue Jays.
In 2012 for the Marlins, Bonifacio started 50 games in center field. He played just 15 games there, mostly because he was the starting second baseman for the Blue Jays and the Royals for 90 games. Bonifacio can play center field, second base, third base, shortstop, as well as the corner outfield positions, though his value is better elsewhere. Plus, Bonifacio stole 30 bases last season playing all of these positions at different times for two teams. It's as if the Phillies added Michael Martinez, only faster, a better defender, and who can hit better.
Bonifacio hit about .250 each of the last two seasons after hitting .296 for the Marlins in 2011. Bonifacio's on base percentage usually is somewhere between .300 and .330, peaking at .360 in 2011. That is nothing particuarly impressive, but when you consider the Phillies need someone to fill in, the drop off would not be completely terrible. If the Phillies need reinforcements at CF, 2B, and 3B, Bonifacio is a nice option.
The Phillies bench could shape up:
- Darin Ruf - RH corner OF bat
- Bobby Abreu - LH corner OF bat
- Freddy Galvis - switch-hitting IF bit
- Emilio Bonifacio - switch-hitting IF and OF bat
- Wil Nieves - backup catcher
If the Phillies hope to have a left-handed bat who can get on base and a right-handed bat who can hit a home run from the bench (or in other words, keep Darin Ruf and Bobby Abreu around), they will need one of those reseve infield spots to contain someone who plays center field. Emilio Bonifacio would enable the Phillies to do that.
Being designated for assignment, the Phillies probably will have to work out a trade with the Royals in order to grab Bonifacio before someone esle does. The Royals have 10 days to trade Bonifacio before he would surely declare free agency, and Bonifacio likely have many suitors. If the Phillies can land him, Mayberry is cut and the versatile Cesar Hernandez will be stashed at AAA until there is an injury.