The Royals officially re-signed veteran left-hander Bruce Chen today and they designated infielder Emilio Bonifacio for assignment in order to make room for him on the 40-man roster.
The move is somewhat curious, as the Royals and Bonifacio avoided arbitration two weeks ago by agreeing to a one-year, $3.5 million contract. However, contracts via arbitration are not fully-guaranteed. At the very least, this move means that the Royals have reached their spending limit this winter.
Bonifacio hit just .243/.295/.331 over 461 plate appearances last season, but he has speed and experience at multiple positions, so he’ll surely find a home somewhere as a bench player. The Royals might be able to find a trade partner in the coming days.
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.