KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals filled the most glaring hole in their roster Monday night when they finalized a $30.25 million, four-year deal with Omar Infante to become their primary second baseman.
The agreement, which includes a club option for 2018, was reached last Friday. Infante will be introduced during a news conference Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium.
The notoriously frugal Royals have been aggressive this offseason after posting their best record in more than two decades at 86-76. They already have signed left-hander Jason Vargas to a $32 million, four-year contract and traded reliever Will Smith to the Milwaukee Brewers for outfielder Norichika Aoki.
Vargas and Aoki filled two major needs, but Infante may plug the most vexing one.
The Royals churned through six players last season — Emilio Bonifacio, Jamey Carroll, Chris Getz, Johnny Giavotella, Elliot Johnson and Miguel Tejada — combined to hit just .243 with four home runs, none of them doing enough to win the job on a full-time basis for next season.
Bonifacio was the most likely option, but he'll instead slide into a utility role thanks to his ability to play around the infield along with the outfield. Infante will primarily play second base, though he also has the ability to play several infield positions and the outfield.
Infante, who turns 32 on Dec. 26, played exclusively at second base for Detroit last season. He hit .318 with 10 homers and 51 RBIs in 118 games.
He received substantial interest from the New York Yankees, who were seeking a replacement for Robinson Cano. But the Yankees were hesitant to give Infante more than three years, and the Royals gave him an extra year while tacking on the club option to lure him to Kansas City.
The Royals are certainly familiar with Infante from having watched him play for their AL Central rival Detroit. He came up with the Tigers in 2002, and then was traded to the Cubs and Braves before landing back in Detroit two years ago, when he helped the Tigers win an AL pennant.