Trayce Thompson played his way into a major league roster spot, though the White Sox had to jettison a clubhouse favorite to keep him around.
With outfielder J.B. Shuck returning from the 15-day disabled list Sunday, the White Sox designated utility man Emilio Bonifacio for assignment. The White Sox signed Bonifacio to a one-year, $4 million contract in January but the 30-year-old only garnered 82 plate appearances in 47 games this season.
“You always make tough decisions,” manager Robin Ventura said. “With kind of the emergence of Trayce, you are getting Shuck back and you can have him as a pinch-hitter playing the outfield. You’ve got to be able to keep some guys who play in the infield and move around.
“It’s a tough one. That stuff is never easy. It didn’t really pan out the way we really saw it happening with him. It’s always tough. He’s a great guy inside the clubhouse.”
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Bonifacio had just 13 hits, two walks and two extra base hits (both doubles) in his 82 plate appearances, good for a .167/.198/.192 slash line. He stole one base in five attempts and struggled to find a role on an American League team with an established pinch-hitting outfielder (Shuck) and versatile reserve infielder (Gordon Beckham).
Bonifacio was owed $3 million in 2015 with a $1 million buyout on a $4 million club option for 2016.
Thompson was promoted from Triple-A Charlotte Aug. 3 and made his major league debut the next day. In a small sample size, Thompson has six hits in 12 at-bats and ripped his first home run Aug. 11 against the Los Angeles Angels. The White Sox like Thompson’s defense, too, which is why they decided to stick with him and ship out Bonifacio.
“You look at what Trayce has done since he’s been up here, you have some options there,” Ventura said. “We are going to run into some lefties coming up here on the road trip. He’s going to get some playing time. You like what he has done and it’s a credit to him and you have to make a decision based on that.”