Though the Red Sox have started to climb back into contention with a four game sweep against the Atlanta Braves, their outfield production remains a question mark. With Shane Victorino’s health in question, the Red Sox must look around for potential help in the outfield. Jacoby Ellsbury is not going to come walking back through that door.
The key to finding potential trade targets is figuring out who is going to buy and who is going to sell at the trade deadline, or before. One team we know will not be contending is the Chicago Cubs. They have a veteran player who can bolster the Red Sox outfield rotation. Emilio Bonifacio is not a well known name to Boston Red Sox fans due to the fact that he has played most of his career in the National League, but he is an attractive option as a mid-season addition.
Bonifacio played four seasons for the Florida/Miami Marlins playing all over the field, mainly second base and all three outfield positions. He was part of the package the Marlins sent to the Toronto Blue Jays before the 2013 season when they cleaned house. The Blue Jays (cleaning house themselves after last season’s disappointment) sold him to the Kansas City Royals in August for the stretch run, where he came alive batting .285 with 16 steals in just 42 games. He started playing center field in 2009 with the Marlins on a part time basis (and has played it each year since), but started playing it more this year making 32 starts for the Cubs there, along with 13 starts at second base. He has even filled in at third base and shortstop for a few innings.
His career splits of .263/322/.342 are nothing to write home about. However, he would provide another stolen base threat. When the Red Sox lost Ellsbury, they lost their primary base stealer. While the outfield, and the offense in general, has performed better in the Red Sox recent winning streak, there is certainly room for improvement in the speed category. Through May 28, the Red Sox ranked 28th in the majors, with 16 steals (14th in the AL). They have been caught 11 times, a success rate of 59 percent, which ranks last in the majors. Bonifacio himself has 12 steals for the Cubs, out of 16 attempts, a 75 percent success rate. This is in line with his lifetime success rate of 79% (150/190).
Bonifacio’s 2.9 million salary this year is a reasonable addition to the payroll. A mid-level and lower-level prospect would be a fair trade to allow the Cubs to get more experience for their younger players. Theo Epstein must still have some knowledge of the system to work a deal for the right prospects for the Cubs which might pay dividends for them down the road.
Winning definitely makes problems seem less urgent, but with his reasonable salary, defensive versatility, and speed, Emilio Bonifacio is a player the Red Sox should consider strongly as a trade target.