KC Royals second baseman Omar Infante cleared waivers on Thursday, thereby proving the sanity of every other general manager in major-league baseball. The Kansas City Royals are now obligated to eat $14.7 million in guaranteed money left on Infante’s contract.
While the news is no surprise, it’s still a punch to the gut to know that the KC Royals will still be on the hook for $14.7 million in dead money. However, you can’t criticize the front office for failing to give Omar Infante every opportunity to rebuild his value in a Kansas City Royals uniform. They’ve been more than patient.
In the end, Omar Infante was a sunk cost that the KC Royals were wise to move on from. He was taking valuable roster space that the team needed for their straining bullpen.
At this point, I would be surprised to see Infante attract anything more than a minor-league deal given his complete collapse at the plate, There can’t be much of a market for a second baseman hitting .239/.279/.321 with an OPS+ of 60 (40% worse than a league average hitter).
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Omar Infante is almost the very definition of a replacement level player, accumulating -0.2 bWAR in 149 plate appearances for the Kansas City Royals in 2016. Infante might get some play if he can show the ability to play shortstop, third base, and the outfield like he did earlier in his career. However, I think such versatility is unlikely after his elbow chips which required surgery last winter.
Perhaps cleaning up his elbow has given back Infante’s ability to play on the left side of the infield, but he hasn’t shown that for the Kansas City Royals, who exclusively played Infante at second base.
I think the best option for Infante to land on a major league roster is the Atlanta Braves, who have had a hole at second base all season. Jace Peterson has been a disaster, and the Braves dealt Kelly Johnson to the Mets earlier this month in return for AA pitcher Akeel Morris. Given that Infante would be playing on an major-league minimum contract, the price would be right for a Braves team that’s going nowhere in 2016.