Infante signs two-year contract

Infante signs two-year contract

ATLANTA -- Omar Infante impressed the Braves enough to earn himself the opportunity to strengthen their bench for at least the next two seasons.

The Braves avoided arbitration with Infante on Monday by signing him to a two-year, $4.3 million contract that includes an option for the 2011 season. The 27-year-old veteran would have been eligible for free agency at the end of this upcoming season.

Infante, who was acquired from the Cubs on Dec. 4, 2007, hit .293 with 24 doubles, three homers and a .338 on-base percentage in 96 games with the Braves last season. He missed the season's first five weeks because of a broken right hand and returned to the disabled list in July with a strained right hamstring.

With Infante, the Braves have a utility player capable of playing each of the infield and outfield positions. He made 77 starts at five different positions -- third base (26), left field (26), shortstop (15), second base (9) and center field (1) -- and batted in seven different spots of the lineup.

Along with being versatile, Infante also proved effective, hitting a team-best .341 with runners in scoring position. In the 55 games he played after being activated from the disabled list, he batted .300 (62-for-207).

Infante, who was once considered a top prospect in Detroit's organization, will make $1.85 million in 2009 and draw a salary of $2,225,000 in '10. His contract also includes a $250,000 buyout for his $2.5 million option in '11.

Like they have with Infante, the Braves will also attempt to avoid going to an arbitration hearing with each of their other arbitration-eligible players -- Jeff Francoeur, Mike Gonzalez, Kelly Johnson, Matt Diaz and Casey Kotchman.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.