Last offseason, the Royals surprised fans by signing former Detroit Tigers second baseman Omar Infante to a four-year, $30.25 million contract (plus team option for 2018). He was coming off one of the better seasons of his career, posting 2.4 WAR and a 115 OPS+. Infante appeared in 135 games in 2014, but saw his numbers dip as he struggled with a sore right shoulder.
Tuesday afternoon, Ken Rosenthal reported that the Royals are shopping the infielder, though some speculate they may need to cover a substantial portion of the $23.25 million he is owed over the next three seasons.
Shortly after Rosenthal’s report, Tim Dierkes tweeted that the Royals had interest in free agent Asdrubal Cabrera, the long-time shortstop of the division-rival Indians who finished the 2014 campaign playing second for the Washington Nationals. While the Royals may be looking to move their 2014 second baseman to make room for Cabrera, the Royals also have two players on their 40-man roster who could replace Infante themselves.
While never a top prospect, Giavotella moved quickly through the Royals system. Drafted in the second round by Kansas City in 2008, he was first called up in early August 2011, and started at second base for the remainder of the season.
Giavotella was never considered to be a strong defender, an opinion later supported by his -10.7 UZR/150 (951 innings). Rather, he was projected to bring moderate offensive value based largely on his excellent control of the strike zone in the minor leagues (career: 10.1 BB%, 10.4 K%).
Due in large part to a season-ending injury to Chris Getz, Giavotella appeared in a career-high 53 games in 2012. However, after disappointing both offensively and defensively that season, he saw action in only 14 games in 2013, spending less time at second base than Chris Getz, Elliot Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio or the ancient Miguel Tejada.
The Royals organization appears to have lost faith in the diminutive infielder. Although Giavotella isn’t arbitration-eligible until 2017, his dreadful career 67 OPS+ (465 PA) in the Majors may prevent him from getting another shot at a starting job with the Royals, should Infante be traded.
The Royals selected Cal State-Fullerton standout shortstop Christian Colon with their first-round draft choice (fourth overall) in 2010. He signed quickly, and made his debut at High-A Wilmington that summer, slashing .278/.326/.376 (271 PA), although there were questions early on about his ability to stick at the position due to limited range. That December, Dayton Moore dealt disgruntled ace Zack Greinke for a package that included Alcides Escobar, and Colon found himself blocked at the position.
Colon was ranked as a top-100 prospect entering the 2011 season (51, Baseball America; 88, Baseball Prospectus); however, his prospect ranking within the Royals organization dropped each year as he progressed through the minors. Colon was promoted to the big club for the first time on July 1, 2014. Although Colon was sent back down ten days later, he saw action in a total of 21 games that year, starting seven of them at second. He also saw limited action in the postseason, though he played the hero in the 12th inning of the Royals’ stunning comeback victory over the A’s, driving in the tying run with an infield single, stealing second base, and scoring on a Sal Perez single to left.
While Colon has impressed in his limited time with the big club and posted a .729 OPS across five minor league seasons (where he was consistently younger than the weighted average of the other hitters), he simply hasn’t done enough to distinguish himself as an everyday major leaguer.
Neither Giavotella nor Colon seem likely candidates to replace an outgoing Omar Infante. Should Dayton Moore choose to deal the veteran second baseman, he will likely look outside his 40-man roster to fill the void. Mercifully, Moore has already signed Chris Getz to a contract to develop players rather than be one. Yuniesky Betancourt, however, remains at large.Next post: Should the Reds Trade Aroldis Chapman?
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