After the Cardinals much ballyhooed signing of Jhonny Peralta and the fact that his contract was larger in both average annual value and length than most outlets had predicted, another player may find himself in a similar situation with a lot less negative baggage weighing him down.
Omar Infante missed qualifying for the batting title last year by only 24 plate appearances, but if you lower the bar to 400 PA, he led AL second basemen with a .318 batting average, besting free agent king Robinson Cano‘s .314 mark. It wasn’t just a flash in the pan, either. Amongst second basemen with at least 1000 PAs since 2010, Infante’s .295 average ranks fifth, his 10.3 fWAR during that time places him 9th and he has accumulated that value in a good and balanced way. He doesn’t walk much but he really doesn’t strike out, posting 4.7% and 10.8% marks respectively in 2013, and his defense is rated as above average.
Invaluable outlet MLB Trade Rumors pegged Infante’s expected contract at 3 years and $25 million dollars, and I feel like all signs point to Infante shattering that expectation. The weak market at the middle infield led to MLBTR falling far short of Peralta’s eventual four-year $53 million pact with the Cardinals after predicting a 3 year, $36 million dollar deal. The second base market outside Cano is incredibly weak, and with the Tigers already having addressed their need their with the acquisition of Kinsler, thats both a destination and a target off the board. Infante enters the market at 32 with a long list of potential suitors including the Orioles, Blue Jays, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, and Mets just off the top of my head.
With a market that size and the lack of available alternatives and the lack of draft pick compensation tied to him, I’d expect Omar Infante’s services to generate a bidding war, and I could see the dust settling with Infante signing as high as a 4-year $40 million dollar deal to a motivated team like the Blue Jays or Dodgers.