Outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, infielder Dawel Lugo and right-hander Justin Grimm are among the former Major Leaguers on the spring roster for the Mexican League’s Guadalajara Mariachis, the team announced this week (Twitter link). Infielders Luis Sardinas and Deven Marrero are on the roster as well, as are pitchers Jason Gurka and Daniel Corcino. All have big league experience, though only Bonifacio, Grimm and Lugo were in the big leagues last season. Five-time MLB All-Star Adrian Gonzalez is also on the roster for the Mariachis, an expansion club in 2021, as was initially reported late last month.
Bonifacio, now 27, looked like a potential option for the Royals in right field back in 2017 when he slugged 17 homers in 113 games as a 24-year-old rookie. He batted .255/.320/.432 that season and was in line for a lengthier audition in 2018 before being hit with an 80-game PED suspension during Spring Training that year. Bonifacio struggled through 270 plate appearances upon returning and was out of the Royals organization a year later. He played in 30 games with the Tigers last season but managed just a .221/.277/.326 slash in 94 trips to the plate.
Grimm was an oft-used and generally successful member of the Cubs’ bullpen from 2014-16, working to a collective 3.36 ERA with a hearty 28 percent strikeout rate against a 10.5 percent walk rate through 171 1/3 innings in that time. He struggled considerably in 2017, however (5.53 ERA in 55 1/3 frames), and has yet to regain his form at the game’s top level. Now 32 years old, Grimm is certainly young enough to make another big league run if he can right the ship pitching with Guadalajara.
Lugo, meanwhile, was the headliner of the prospect package the D-backs sent to the Tigers in exchange for J.D. Martinez back in 2017. The now-26-year-old infielder appeared in the big leagues each season from 2018-20 but didn’t provide much reason for optimism, slashing just .236/.270/.358 in 400 plate appearances.
The 30-year-old Marrero was a first-round pick by the Red Sox in 2012, and while he’s a strong defender he’s never hit much in 163 big league games. Sardinas, 27, was a top prospect back in 2013-14 but hit .224/.274/.292 in 500 big league plate appearances from 2014-18. Gurka and Corcino both briefly reached the Majors between 2014-18, though they have only 40 2/3 total innings combined between them. Corcino does have a 3.97 ERA in his limited time, but he walked nearly as many hitters (13) as he struck out (16) in 22 2/3 innings.