From the Cubs Media Dept:
CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs today acquired right-handed hitting infielder Omar Infante from the Detroit Tigers for outfielder Jacque Jones and a cash consideration.
Infante, 25, batted .271 (45-for-166) with two home runs and 17 RBI in 66 games with Detroit last season. Versatile in the field, Infante played six positions last season, most often at second base (20 games). He also appeared at shortstop (14 games), third base (nine), center field (12), right field (six) and left field (one).
The Venezuela native hit .281 (18-for-64) off left-handed pitching and posted a .413 batting average (19-for-46) with runners in scoring position in 2007. Infante batted .309 (25-for-81) with a .341 on-base percentage in 32 games in May and June.
A member of the 2006 American League pennant winners, Infante has spent part of the last six seasons with the Tigers after the club signed him as a non-drafted free agent in April of 1999. He owns a .253 career batting average (403-for-1,592) with 81 doubles, 17 triples, 32 home runs and 154 RBI in 494 contests with Detroit.
In 2004, his first full season with the Tigers, Infante set career marks with 142 games played, 69 runs, 133 hits and 16 home runs while his career-best nine triples ranked fourth in the American League. That marked the second of three seasons in which Infante was managed by current Cubs bench coach Alan Trammell (2003-2005).
Jones, 32, batted .285 (281-for-986) with 32 home runs and 147 RBI in 284 games for the Cubs after he signed with the team as a major league free agent in January of 2006. Last season, Jones batted .285 (129-for-453) with five home runs and 66 RBI in 135 contests.
TSN Scouting on Infante:
I’ve always been a big fan of Omar Infante but it just didn’t seem like it was going to work in Detroit. He had a breakout season in 2004 when Fernando Vina went down with an injury and he earned the starting second base job in 2005 but he struggled early. He then lost his job when the Tigers traded for Placido Polanco and since then, he’s spent time both in the minors and as a utility player (he can play outfield and infield). He fell out of favor last year and the Tigers eventually went with Ramon Santiago down the stretch and after they signed Santiago yesterday, it was probably just a matter of time before Infante was gone.
Still, Infante is only 25 and while that breakout season is three years removed, it’s there. I don’t know what the Cubs have planned for Infante but you wonder if Alan Trammell’s presence on the team had anything to do with this deal.
While this deal does make room in terms of salary, as Jones was set to earn $5 million in 2008 and Infante figures to make roughly $1.5 based on his previous contract, it doesn’t make a lot of sense in filling needs for the Cubs. Infante can’t possibly give us an upgrade anywhere. Rotoworld speculates that he could be the platoon partner in CF with Pie against the lefties. Great, except for the fact that he has a career average against lefties of under .250. Am I wrong, or do we not already have that hitter in Felix Pie? I’m just speculating here, but I have a feeling that Infante is either part of another deal that Hendry has in the works or that he will not be offered arbitration and will be non-tendered. My guess is the latter, as it simply works similar to the deal that the Cubs had in place with the Marlins earlier in the year that fell through. However, if I had to pick a team to deal for Infante, it would be the Devil Rays.