Atlanta Braves DFA Brandon Cunniff to sign Emilio Bonifacio


The Atlanta Braves have agreed to a Major League contract with Emilio Bonifacio, but had to designate for assignment Brandon Cunniff in the process.

The Atlanta Braves have announced the signing of veteran infielder Emilio Bonifacio via their Twitter account. Bonifacio played with the Atlanta Braves after the 2014 MLB Trade Deadline before signing with the Chicago White Sox in 2015.

To make room for Emilio Bonifacio, the Atlanta Braves had to remove a player from their 40-man roster. That man was relief pitcher Brandon Cunniff who was part of the awful Atlanta bullpen in 2015.

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In 2014, Bonifacio appeared in 41 games a hit only .212/.273/.280 after coming over to the Atlanta Braves in a trade deadline deal. He then struggled on the South Side with the Chicago White Sox in 2015, playing in only 47 games while hitting at even worse splits of .167/.198/.192.

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Many in Braves Country questioned why Atlanta would acquire the nine-year veteran who appears clearly on the decline. Perhaps it has to do with the team needed a utility infielder after waiving Pedro Ciriaco a few weeks ago. Bonifacio can play third base, shortstop, second base, and all three outfield positions as well as pinch hit if need be.

However to make room for Bonifacio, the Braves had to designate for assignment right-handed reliever Brandon Cunniff who pitched in 39 games his rookie year for the 2015 Atlanta Braves. Cunniff was 2-2 with a 4.63 ERA, a 1.400 WHIP, and an ERA+ of 82 in 35.0 innings pitched last year. While he had a high strikeouts per nine innings of 9.5, his base on balls per nine innings of 5.7 and home runs per nine innings of 6.9 were part of the reason the Atlanta Braves bullpen struggled so much in 2015.

This doesn’t seem like a big roster move for the Atlanta Braves, but it could send a message of how general manager John Coppolella wants to assemble the 2016 team during this rebuilding period. The Atlanta Braves’ front office has made it known that they want to improve the bullpen more than anything in 2016, as the starting rotation talent is close and could use the help of not having a leaky bullpen.

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Atlanta has made several roster moves to address the bullpen, but still needed to find a familiar face to assume a utility infielder role. It’s interesting how the Atlanta Braves have brought back many former players to the club through free agent signings. Expect the Braves to keep making moves until they are a championship contending, however far out that is. Go Braves!