Infante plugs a hole at second base that has plagued the Tigers from the start of the season. Tigers second basemen have hit an American League low .202 with just 25 RBI from the position.
“He’s always been a talented player, he’s got a little pop,” said Jim Leyland of Infante. “He’s a calm player. Very professional and goes about his business."
Leyland now has a player that can play the position on a nightly basis and it is one less worry for the skipper as he makes out his lineup card every night. The move also pushed Ramon Santiago back to the utility role, one that he has flourished in recently.
Infante meanwhile, is happy to be back in the Motor City. “It’s like coming home,” he said. “I signed (originally) with Detroit and they gave me my first opportunity. I remember the fans, my teammates and Jim Leyland. It’s a family.”
The arrival of Sanchez means Drew Smyly’s immediate future is up in the air. Sanchez does provide the Tigers with a solid veteran arm for the rotation. He is also a free agent at the end of the year and his future home will likely be determined by where the money is. Sanchez earns 8 million dollars and will likely command as much as 12 million per year beginning next season. The Tigers will have to decide if they will want to pursue him.
Jacob Turner, the Tigers top pitching prospect, was part of the price to land Sanchez. Already the John Smoltz comparisons are surfacing. Smoltz was traded by the Tigers to the Braves in 1987 for Doyle Alexander. Alexander served his purpose, going 9-0 down the stretch and helping the Tigers to the post season that year.
Smoltz went on to win 213 games in 21 years and saved 154 more. What many fail to realize is that Smoltz was also 4-10 with an ERA near 6.00 at AA Glens Falls at the time of the trade. He was 11-18 in parts of two minor league seasons with the Tigers. There was no way of knowing what he would become, just as there is no way of knowing what Turner will become. The gamble is worth the risk.
Also, for every Smoltz /Alexander scenario, there many “top prospects” that are dealt that never fulfill the huge promise. Remember Humberto Sanchez for Gary Sheffield? Sanchez pitched a grand total of two games in the big leagues.
How about Andrew Miller as part of the Miguel Cabrera deal? Miller has found a home in the Red Sox pen, but only after six seasons as a subpar starter.
If Turner becomes an ace in the big leagues, then good for him. Some believe he can. The bottom line is that rarely are trades terribly one sided. You have to give up talent to receive talent.
The Tigers have a chance to win now and Sanchez and Infante can help them win the Central and hopefully make a deep run in the post season.