As winter moves along, the free agent market will start to dry up, and only a few veterans will likely be left. When the Shin-Soo Choos and Jacoby Ellsburys of the world have been taken, the Kelly Johnsons and Jason Kubels don’t look so bad. As last call approaches, Omar Infante looks more like Robinson Cano than Luis Castillo for one lucky general manager.
Fortunately for Infante, he’s entering the market coming off of a career year for the Tigers. The steady second baseman hit .318/.345/.450 with average defense, good enough for a career-high 3.1 fWAR. The 31-year-old contact hitter continued to be average or slightly better at several aspects of his game, even though he didn't excel at anything in particular. The first-time free agent carries a .279/.319/.402 career line.
The market for free-agent second basemen gets incredibly thin after Robinson Cano. Infante’s 3.1 fWAR season could appeal to a team hoping for a reasonably priced upgrade at the keystone. Infante will soon turn 32 years old and could be a candidate for a two- or three-year contract.
A consistent, although unspectacular, second baseman has value, but it would be surprising to see Infante get more than $10 million per year. A three-year deal worth just under $30 million could be a fair deal for Infante and the team that signs him.
The Mets already have a cheaper version of Omar Infante in Daniel Murphy. Their numbers are close enough that the only thing Infante would really add to the team is more money to the payroll. If Murphy continues his suddenly excellent baserunning he could easily outplay Infante in 2014 and beyond.
There have been rumblings that the team could also look at Eric Young Jr. and Wilmer Flores at 2B. While none of these options are ideal, adding Infante wouldn’t be, either. The Wilpons’ money is better spent elsewhere.