Oct 16, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers second baseman Omar Infante (4) hits a ground rule double against the Boston Red Sox during the fourth inning in game four of the American League Championship Series baseball game at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
A tidbit of news that came out of yesterday’s press conference was that the Detroit Tigers wouldn’t be extending qualifying offers to free agents to be Omar Infante, Joaquin Benoit, or Jhonny Peralta by today’s deadline.
Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors pegs Infante as the #18 free agent hitting the market this offseason and thinks he can land a deal worth three years and $25 million. Of the three, he was the only one who I thought might receive an offer.
"One of the ten best second basemen in the game, Infante doesn’t strike out much and is solid defensively. He’s not getting a qualifying offer. I think he can find a three-year deal in the $25MM range, maybe to stay with the Tigers. The Cubs, Yankees, Orioles, and Royals are other possibilities."
I think the Tigers are certainly the favorite in the Infante sweepstakes – they’re familiar with him, he’s performed well, and they have an aparent need at second base – but I’m still unsure that the mult-year deal is the route they want to take. Given his age, he’ll be 32 next season, you’d be running the risk of a sharp decline if his speed and defense fades.
Three years and $25 million wouldn’t be too bad. He would almost certainly be worth the $8.3 million average annual value in 2014, and the team wouldn’t be killed if the last year or two ended up as a slight overpay, but anything too far north of $25 million would make me wonder if the security of a one-year deal wouldn’t have been better.
The $14.1 million would have been a high price, but he would have been worth that sum in each of the last two seasons, and the team would be able to wipe their hands clean after only the one year if he couldn’t repeat his career year at the plate. And with either Hernan Perez or Devon Travis potentially ready to play in the big leagues in a year or two, maybe $8+ million for a 33 year old middle infielder isn’t the best investment.
The unfortunate thing, though, is that if the Tigers don’t have an extension worked out with Infante by the time qualifying offers are due, they’ll lose that bit of leverage. Players who have qualifying offer compensation tagged to them (i.e. those who turned down a qualifying offer) have not generally been rewarded with handsome contracts in free agency.