The Braves have brought in a familiar face, bringing back utility man Emilio Bonifacio on a one-year deal. The speedster spent the second half of 2014 in Atlanta after the team acquired him alongside James Russell for catching prospect Victor Caratini. However, Bonifacio did not play up to his standards in the small sample size. He struggled in 47 appearances for the White Sox this season as well, and spent some time in the minors. Needless to say, this signing is not exactly a headliner. However, it does add some versatility to a team that still has question marks around the diamond. Where will Hector Olivera play? What happens when Mallex Smith returns? Bonifacio can play outfield and second base, and can cover shortstop or third base at times as well. Needless to say, his versatility provides far more value than the stat sheet shows. The Braves are rebuilding, and it’s easy to forget that the team started last season with Eric Young Jr. slotted in as the starter in centerfield. There are a lot of pieces of the puzzle in play right now, but we should have more clarification surrounding Bonifacio and Gordon Beckham’s roles come Spring Training. If he plays his best baseball, it’s not far-fetched to think he could give Jace Peterson serious competition over at second base, especially with a logjam in the outfield (though I expect another move to be made).
Bonafacio is a great addition to any bench so long as he plays like he did a couple seasons ago. He has 30+ steal potential and is a .259 hitter. His deal is a major league pact, and according to SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo, it is a $1.25 million deal that can earn up to twice that amount through incentives. Welcome back, Emilio.