The Royals added to an offseason of upgrades on Monday by agreeing to terms with second baseman Omar Infante on a four-year contract, with an additional club option for 2018.
The deal, which had been expected since last Friday, is worth a $30.25 million. Infante, who will turn 32 on Dec. 26, will be introduced at a news conference on Tuesday morning at Kauffman Stadium.
Infante hit .318 with 10 home runs and 24 doubles for the Tigers last season, and immediately slots in as the Royals’ starting second baseman and likely No. 2 hitter behind projected leadoff hitter Norichika Aoki, who was acquired earlier this offseason from Milwaukee in exchange for left-handed pitcher Will Smith.
Both Infante and Aoki are contact hitters who don’t strike out often.
Infante struck out 44 times in 476 plate appearances last season and had a .345 on-base percentage. Aoki struck out 40 times in 674 plate appearances while hitting .286 with a .356 on-base percentage.
The move also allows the Royals to slide infielder Emilio Bonifacio into a full-time utility role. Bonifacio batted .285/.352/.348 in 42 games last season after being acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays on Aug. 14.
In addition to spelling Infante at second base, Bonifacio could see time at third base — especially if Mike Moustakas fails to have a bounce-back year after struggling for much of 2013.
Infante, 31, had been the subject of rumors throughout the week during baseball’s Winter Meetings.The Yankees reportedly offered him three years and $24 million but were turned down because Infante was looking for a fourth year. With the club option, the Royals will control Infante through the 2018 season, when he’ll 36 years old.
Infante was seen as the best second baseman on the free-agent market and reportedly had drawn interest from the Reds, along with the Royals and Yankees.
The Royals’ signing of Infante would push next year’s payroll past $90 million, if no other moves are made. The payroll had climbed to about $87 million with the four-year, $32 million contract given to starting pitcher Jason Vargas. He gets $7 million in his first season.
Royals general manager Dayton Moore said that next year’s payroll is expected to match last year’s outlay of roughly $85 million.