Option A for the Tigers as they try to fill their chasm at second and third base appears to be hoping Ryan Raburn goes on a tear, Carlos Guillen regains his All-Star form on a peg leg and Brandon Inge somehow hits 20 homers.
It’s probably time to consider Option B. And with that in mind, we take you to a post from CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler on Monday, which mentions the possibility that Florida could deal Omar Infante at the deadline.
Infante, as you no doubt recall, spent 2002-07 in a Tigers uniform, before heading to Atlanta in 2008. He made the All-Star Game for the Braves last season, then was traded to Florida in November for Dan Uggla. Now, with his contract expiring at the end of the year, Infante might be a perfect fit to bring back to Detroit for the stretch run.
Infante’s numbers this season don’t really leap off the page — .251 average, .293 OBP, 27 RBI and three steals. He did bat .321 last year, though, and .305 the season prior, and has shown some signs of life lately.
More importantly for the Tigers’ cause, he’d be an upgrade over either Raburn at second or Inge at third. He has more experience as a 2B, but one of Infante’s best qualities as a major leaguer is his versatility. That’s a characteristic that has endeared Don Kelly to Tigers manager Jim Leyland — Infante can play everywhere (except catcher) that Kelly can, has a better bat and could slide into a leadoff role if Austin Jackson keeps struggling there.
Better yet, with his contract expiring at the end of the season and Florida a good 10 1/2 games out of the wild card, it’s possible and maybe even likely that Infante could be had for a minimal offer. In the right circumstance, Detroit might be able to pry him away in a deal involving a couple of fringe minor-league prospects.
Infante’s been seeing a lot of playing time lately, but is he in the Marlins’ future plans? Florida could have to decide between him and Chris Coghlan, who’s trip to the DL set the table for Infante to see every-day at-bats again. Coghlan, for what it’s worth, is also a free agent after this season.
Even as the Tigers wait for Guillen to return to the lineup, the reality seems to be that the team needs an upgrade at multiple infield positions. Infante’s wouldn’t win the division by himself, but his attributes are exactly what Detroit could use right now.