As much as Tigers fans want to bemoan the organization’s decision to let Placido Polanco walk, there are other quality 2nd baseman that the Tigers used to have but parted ways with for whatever reason. Scott Sizemore for one, though it could be argued, needed the change of scenery to begin living up to some of his expectations. Long forgotten Omar Infantewas another.
I’ve never liked the Tigers decision to deal Infante, and that was before we all saw the abomination that Jacque Jones turned out to be. You see, at the time of his trade (before the 2008 season), I thought that Infante was the best shortstop the Tigers had. It certainly wasn’t Neifi Perez, despite Jim Leyland’s affinity for the weak hitting stick figure.
Now in 2012, with the Tigers still searching for even a decent 2nd baseman, things might come full circle for the Marlins Omar Infante and the Tigers, as he is a candidate to return to the club.
Why the Marlins could/would part with Infante:
The Marlins were one of the most talked about teams in the off-season. Contrary to their clubs history, it spent the 2011-12 off-season buying up all the players that would come down and play in Miami. Landing guys like Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle, and Jose Reyes was supposed to put the Marlins in contention for a playoff spot. And while they aren’t out of it, the Marlins haven’t played up to expectations lending people to believe some of their players are going to be available on the market. From the Marlins standpoint, Infante is one of those guys that holds some value in the trade market. He is having himself a good year, and is relatively cheap. If the Marlins wanted to shed a little payroll, while getting some decent return, Infante is a prime candidate. They do have Emilio Bonifacio, who is on the disabled list, as well as Donovan Solano as well who could man the position for the Marlins, should they choose to move Infante. The Marlins also have 2B prospect Noah Perio down in high A as well.
Why the Tigers would want to acquire Infante:
I think we all know that 2B is a position that the Tigers could certainly use an upgrade. Infante would be an upgrade for sure. Offensively, it’s not even a contest between Infante and current Tigers 2B Ramon Santiago who is more productive. Defensively, Infante is a little step above Santiago as well. Given the improvement Infante would provide across the board, and it’s easy to see why the Tigers would want him. Another reason is the salary, and the fact that Infante is signed for just 4M in 2013 as well. The Tigers would be getting a 2B for next year as well. Seeing as how Detroit doesn’t have a viable 2B option in the minors close to being ready, dealing for Infante makes sense for the future as well. Infante isn’t old by any stretch, as he turns 31 this year, but not til December.
He is hitting .282 for the Marlins this season, while producing an OPS of .750, which he has done four out of the last five years.
The cost of acquiring someone is always the toughest thing to speculate on. For one, the 2B market is a weak one. Besides Infante, the prominent name mentioned tends to be Marco Scutaro. Scutaro and Infante are pretty similar players at this point, though Scutaro is significantly older, and not quite having the season Infante is. Scutaro is making 6M dollars this season too. Given Infante is cheap and the Marlins don’t have to move him, his price tag could be a little larger than most people would think. This isn’t a Jhonny Peralta situation where Infante’s organization just wants to move on. The Marlins are kind of holding the chips on this one.
If the Tigers wanted Infante, it might cost them a guy like Rob Brantly straight up. Now, I know Tigers fans would scoff at that price, but if you think about it, is it really that steep? Brantly, despite his status as a top prospect in the Tigers organization, is kind of an extra part for the Tigers considering that Alex Avila is in Detroit right now. The Tigers need for a quality 2B is such that Brantly is worth it. Think of it this way. Is Brantly going to be starting for the Tigers the next couple of years? He isn’t, and he isn’t a proven major league commodity like Infante is.
What do you all think of Omar Infante coming back to Detroit?