ESPN’s Buster Olney is reporting that the Royals and Omar Infante have agreed to a contract in which the free agent infielder will earn approximately $30 million over four years. Infante solves an obvious middle infield need for the Royals, who are loading up for a run at the AL Central in 2014.
Infante, who turns 32 years old on December 26, had drawn considerable interest from the Yankees as a potential replacement for Robinson Cano. He posted a career-high .795 OPS as a full-time second baseman with the Tigers last season. Olney suggests Infante will slot into the #2 spot in the Royals’ batting order behind Norichika Aoki.
Update: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports adds the specifics:
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.