Detroit Tigers: Omar Infante a Potentially Intriguing Bench Addition

Detroit Tigers fans witnessed Major League veteran Omar Infante make his debut back in the 2002 season. Now Infante is back with the Tigers organization, and could be a vital bench cog.

Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila and the rest of the team’s front office wrapped up a quiet Winter Meetings without any significant trades.

The Tigers did add Daniel Stumpf via the Rule 5 draft, but waited until Friday to announce a number of new additions.

Detroit signed 14 players to minor league contracts at the end of the week. Many of the players, like Gustavo Nunez, Dustin Molleken and Argenis Diaz, all played in the Tigers minor league system last season.

Joining the likes of Nunez, Molleken and Diaz in signing for the Tigers was second baseman Omar Infante.

The Major League veteran returns for what could potentially be his third stint with the club that signed him as an amateur free agent in 1999.

Infante made his big league debut for the franchise in 2002, and stayed through the 2008 season. Following that campaign, he was flipped to Chicago for Jacque Jones.

After stints with Atlanta and Florida, the infielder returned to Detroit in a trade that also netted Anibal Sanchez.

While Infante struggled in 2016, logging a .600 OPS and a 56 wRC+, there’s plenty of upside as a potential bench cog.

Pop

A return to Detroit could help Infante regain the pop he displayed as a member of the Tigers from 2002 through 2008 and during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

In eight years with the franchise, the 34-year-old has mashed 112 doubles and 46 home runs. Infante’s best three seasons in terms of home run out put (2004, 2012 and 2013) have all come while wearing a Tigers uniform.

Per usual, many of Detroit’s starters posted excellent stats in terms of driving in runs. However, the team’s bench was somewhat lacking from an offensive numbers.

Infante could potentially serve as an offensive upgrade to a group that featured the likes of Anthony Gose and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (69 wRC+ each), Mike Aviles (41 wRC+) and Casey McGehee (33 wRC+).

Defensive Versatility

While Infante has largely seen time at second base over the past few seasons, he’s shown he can play multiple positions in the past.

In his 15 years at the Major League level, the ex-Marlin has also seen significant time at shortstop and third base as well as left field and center field.

Camp Competition

Infante will join the team for Major League Spring Training looking to latch on to the roster ahead of Opening Day.

His defensive flexibility will certainly help him, but the veteran won’t be alone in terms of players vying for bench roles.

Dixon Machado and Andrew Romine could both make the team as backup infielders, while JaCoby Jones can provide depth at third base.

With the offseason still underway, it’s possible that the team could make changes before Spring Training. Infante could head into camp with more or less competition depending on Al Avila’s actions over the coming months.

However, as it stands, the veteran brings an intriguing blend of talent to Detroit’s bench provided he can stay productive at the plate.

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