JUNE 23: Infante has cleared release waivers and is now a free agent, tweets Flanagan.
JUNE 21: The Royals have requested unconditional release waivers on Infante, per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link). Infante, of course, figures to clear waivers with ease, as no big league club would be keen on acquiring the remainder of his salary. Once he clears (in 48 hours), he’ll be free to sign with any Major League team, at which point that team would be on the hook for only the pro-rated portion of the league minimum. (That sum would be subtracted from what the Royals owe.)
Infante, 34, has been a major disappointment since signing as a free agent before the 2014 season. Kansas City still owes him the rest of a $7.75MM salary this year and another $10MM down the line, including a buyout of a 2018 option.
Technically, he could sill be claimed or traded, but both seem unlikely. Even a surprise swap would be quite unlikely to save K.C. much cash.
All told, Infante has provided the Royals with a .238/.269/.328 batting line with eight home runs and 11 stolen bases over 1,179 plate appearances. Though he’s been solid enough with the glove and on the bases, it hasn’t come close to making up for the offensive deficiencies. In the aggregate, he has played below replacement level.
That wasn’t the plan when the Royals added Infante, who had just wrapped up a solid 2013 campaign for the division-rival Tigers. Really, it’s a testament to how well the team has performed in the past two seasons that it was able to get by with his marginal contributions. While recent successes have moved the payroll up in the interim, Infante’s signing represented a rather significant commitment for the Royals at the time.
We’ve often discussed the possibility of the team pursuing an upgrade at second, but the final straw ultimately came from within. Surprising 27-year-old rookie Whit Merrifield supplanted Infante, with the presence of utilityman Christian Colon making him expendable.