When the KC Royals signed Omar Infante to a four year contract following the 2013 season, he was expected to solidify a position that had become a revolving door. Infante certainly appeared as though he would be an upgrade over the flotsam that had filled the position since Mark Grudzielanek left, as he posted a solid .318/.345/.450 batting line with ten home runs and 24 doubles in his final year in Detroit. Add in his steady glove, and Infante appeared set to hold the position down for the next four seasons.
Instead, Infante has struggled in his first two seasons with the Kansas City Royals. Battling a myriad of injuries, he has produced a meager .238/.268/.329 batting line with eight home runs in his two seasons in Kansas City. Last year, Infante’s .220/.234/.318 batting line and 49 OPS+ were the worst of any player with 440 or more plate appearances.
While it is fair to consider Infante a sunk cost at this point in time, the Royals still have yet to truly see what sort of a player he could be for them. Hampered by his health issues, Infante has yet to prove that he can be anything more than a solid defensive second baseman. Even that defense has been a bit overrated, as Chris Getz was considered to have saved more runs for the Royals than Infante has.
If healthy, Omar Infante would seem to be a perfect fit in the KC Royals frenzied hitting philosophy. He makes contact, does not strike out often and has enough speed where he can put pressure on an opposing defense. While Infante may not be a middle of the lineup bat, he would slot in well towards the bottom of the Royals lineup.
The problem is that Infante has not been healthy, and when he has, he really has not displayed much to let the Royals think that he can really be a solution. At this point, however, unless the Royals finally give Christian Colon a chance to play every day, Infante would once again be penciled in as the starting secnd baseman heading into the 2016 season.
Infante’s status on the Royals will be one of the more interesting subplots to the offseason. With Ben Zobrist being heavily pursued on the free agent market, the list of free agent second basemen is fairly underwhelming. Daniel Murphy had a hot postseason, but aside from his bat, the next best option may well be Howie Kendrick. Any upgrades over Infante, unless Zobrist is brought back, would likely need to come from within.
The KC Royals still may not truly know what they have in Omar Infante. His health this season may go a long way towards answering that question.