The Royals officially requested waivers on second baseman Omar Infante Tuesday afternoon, ten days after designating him for assignment. The KC Royals will eat the $14.7 million remaining on the four-year deal he signed before the 2014 season.
So much has changed for the Kansas City Royals since they signed Omar Infante as a free-agent. On the day they landed Infante, KC Royals fans expected yet another disappointing season following 28 consecutive years of failing to make the playoffs. Though the team had posted their first winning season since 2003 in 2013, no one expected that the Kansas City Royals stood on the brink of two World Series appearances in a row.
Honestly, KC Royals fans have enjoyed one of the best eras in club history the last 2 1/2 seasons. Not only have the Royals won on the field, it’s HOW they won that’s proved so compelling. Their never say die attitude has resulting in numerous historic comebacks that include overcoming two four-run deficits in elimination games and a record eight post-season comebacks in one season.
It would be nice to attribute some of that success to Omar Infante, but I’m not really sure that would be accurate. Infante had many good days for the Royals, especially his career-high seven RBI game against Cleveland in 2015. While Omar Infante made some plays at critical times (especially in the 2014 playoffs), his overall production was so limited that any number of players could have given the Kansas City Royals just as much.
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Though the front office doubted that Christian Colon was ready to take over at second base on a full-time basis before the 2014 season, I can’t imagine that he could not have equaled—if not surpassed—Infante’s 0.8 bWAR (Baseball-Reference Wins Above Replacement) in 2014. And, given Christian Colon’s key hits in the 2014 Wild Card Game and game 5 of the 2015 World Series, it’s not as if Colon couldn’t perform under pressure.
It’s also pretty obvious that Colon probably would have produced more than Infante’s -0.2 bWAR over his last 2.5 years with the Royals considering that Colon has accumulated 1.5 bWAR over that span as a bench player.
Yet, I can’t fault Omar Infante in any way. By all accounts he’s a good clubhouse guy that works hard. His 34-year-old body just ran out of gas. There’s no shame in that. It happens to every baseball player at some point.
In the end, Omar Infante has enjoyed a fine career in major league baseball. He’s logged 15 major-league seasons. He was named an All-Star in 2010 for the Atlanta Braves. He’s started for four AL pennant winners (two in Detroit and two in Kansas City), and earned one World Series ring. Most prospects would kill to have Infante’s future ahead of them.
Godspeed, Omar. And good luck.