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.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.