The Kansas City Royals already lost one battle with the New York Yankees for the services of a free agent. Now they are going head to head for another.
A few days after Carlos Beltran chose the Yankees over the Royals, Omar Infante is now a target for both teams, according to ESPN’s Jon Heyman on twitter. The Yankees are looking for a replacement for Robinson Cano, who signed with the Seattle Mariners last week. The Royals are looking to upgrade at second base and improve their batting line up.
#royals will try again to beat yanks on omar infante. should be strong market. also an uphill battle for kc.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 8, 2013
Infante is 31 years old, and coming off a season in which he produced the following slash line – .318/.345/.450/.795. He also hit 10 home runs for the Detroit Tigers last season. His 2013 slash was much higher than his career averages – .279/.319/.402/.721. Last season was his best as a major leaguer. He has been a big leaguer since 2002.
According to MLB Trade Rumors, Infante is seeking at least $8 million a year for multiple years. If that is his asking price, it is hard to imagine the Royals signing him. That is a lot of money for a middle infielder who has been average for all but two of his 12 seasons in the big leagues.
The Royals would be better off going after Howie Kendrick, or maybe Daniel Murphy, or even Brandon Phillips. All of these options would be better than paying someone of Infante’s offensive skills $8 million a year for more than one season.
The Royals have indicated they are willing to go into the season with incumbent Emilio Bonifacio at second. While he played well for the Royals the final two months of the season, Bonifacio’s history does not support his production he provided the Royals. He is certainly young enough to have turned a corner and found a comfort zone in Kansas City, but the Royals may not want to take that chance.
Bonifacio would still have great value to the team as a super utility player, and that may be how the Royals see him.
All of the other options, including Infante, will probably be better than Bonifacio offensively, though with Infante, it could go either way. Infante does not have the consistent history of production that Brandon Phillips, Howie Kendrick, and Daniel Murphy have.
The Royals are at least in the conversation with some of these free agents. Whether they can actually sign one or not remains to be seen.
If the choices are signing beat up 37-year old outfielders for $16 million over three years, or maybe slightly above average middle infielders for $8 million a year, then the Royals are probably being fiscally responsible, and you can’t blame them for that.
At some point, Kansas City is just going to have to bite the bullet and overpay for someone, just to improve the team. With each signing or trade made by other teams, those options shrink.
It should be an interesting next few days as Kansas City fans wait, to either cheer or criticize. The waiting is the hardest part.