A mounting injury list prompted the Royals to acquire a veteran utility player Wednesday for the second time in four days: Emilio Bonifacio from Toronto for a player to be named later or cash.
The Royals announced the deal just prior to their 5-2 loss to Miami at Kauffman Stadium.
Bonifacio, 28, batted .218 this season for the Blue Jays with 16 doubles, three homers and 20 RBIs in 262 at-bats over 94 games. Toronto obtained him last November in a trade from Miami.
“He brings versatility,” general manager Dayton Moore said. “He’s a player who had a really good year last year (for Miami). This year, he’s struggled a little bit, but he’s played better lately.
“We like that he can play all three outfield positions. He can also play second and play third. He’s a switch-hitter with some speed.”
The trade required an immediate space-clearing move on the club’s 40-man roster: The Royals shifted veteran infielder Miguel Tejada to the 60-day disabled list — a move that effectively ends his season.
“We felt it was going to be at least 15 days (with Tejada),” Moore said. “We just felt we had to move on at this point in time for where we are in the season. We need able bodies.”
The Royals must also make a corresponding move to clear space on their 25-man roster when Bonifacio arrives — most likely before Thursday’s series opener in Detroit.
That decision is likely to hinge on the recovery of third baseman Mike Moustakas from a strained left calf. He suffered the injury Monday and exited the clubhouse Wednesday in a walking boot for the trip to Detroit.
“I’m feeling better each day,” Moustakas said. “This (boot) is just what I have to do. It’s just part of the rehabilitation thing. It takes all of the stress off of my calf. It looks bad, but it makes me feel good.”
Manager Ned Yost said a “best-case” scenario is that Moustakas is “available to do some pinch-hitting or playing maybe Saturday or Sunday.”
Tejada, 39, would be eligible Oct. 10 for reinstatement if the Royals advance that deep into postseason. He suffered a strained right calf in last Saturday’s 5-3 loss to Boston.
Club officials said Tejada’s injury proved more severe than initially believed.
“Obviously, with Moose’s situation being day to day…” Moore said. “Hopefully, he doesn’t have to go on the disabled list, but we’ve got to cover ourselves.”
While Tejada was linked to steroids use earlier in his career — a charge he has always denied — there is no known evidence at this point to suggest this move stems from any violation of Major League Baseball’s drug program.
It was Tejada’s injury that prompted Sunday’s trade to acquire infielder Jamey Carroll from Minnesota for cash or a player to be named later. Tejada was batting .288 with 16 doubles, three homers and 26 RBIs in 53 games.
Bonifacio, a switch-hitter, is completing a $2.6 million contract and will be under club control, via arbitration, through next season. He is the older brother of one the Royals’ top prospects.
Jorge Bonifacio, 20, is currently playing at Class AA Northwest Arkansas. He was ranked by Baseball America prior to the season as the organization’s No. 4 prospect.
Emilio Bonifacio is a seven-year veteran who previously spent time with the Diamondbacks, Nationals and Marlins. He has a .261 average and a .319 on-base percentage in 570 career games.
“We don’t think Moose is going to be out a long time,” Yost said. “But Moose being out, Miggy being out, (outfielder Lorenzo) Cain being out, we’ve got another guy who can play the outfield if we need it.
“We’ve got another guy who can play anywhere in the infield and is athletic.”