Tigers acquire J. Jones from Cubs
"Our scouts really like him and how he fits because he's a left-handed hitter that can play all three spots in the outfield," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said in a telephone interview. "But I think it was a great trade for both teams because Infante can really help a National League team because he can play short, second, third and in the outfield."
Jones took over as Chicago's starting center fielder in the second half this season. In Detroit, he's expected to split time in left with Marcus Thames and provide depth behind Curtis Granderson and Magglio Ordonez at the other outfield positions.
The Tigers missed the playoffs this fall after a surprising run to the 2006 World Series. Hoping for a return to the postseason next year, they addressed a major need two weeks ago by trading for All-Star shortstop Edgar Renteria from Atlanta for two prospects. Detroit also agreed Monday to a $7 million, one-year contract with closer Todd Jones, who had become a free agent.
"The Tigers just seem to be getting better every winter," Todd Jones said. "We officially don't have an out in our lineup anymore."
Jacque Jones hit .285 with five homers, 33 doubles and 66 RBIs in 135 games last season, his ninth in the majors. He signed with the Cubs before the 2006 season after playing for Minnesota from 1999-05.
"He gives us another left-handed bat that we wanted in the lineup," Tigers president Dave Dombrowski said. "He's also an established major league winning player that gives us some flexibility in the outfield."
Infante batted .271 with two home runs and 17 RBIs in 66 games with Detroit this year. He played six positions and made his most appearances at second base in 20 games. He also played shortstop, third base and all three outfield positions.
"Detroit had been showing interest the last couple of weeks. Dave and I started preliminary talks in Orlando and had some serious discussions that concluded late last night," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said.
"We're happy to get Infante. He gives us another guy who is versatile and can play everywhere on the infield and all three outfield spots. ... It's good for both clubs. Dave was looking for someone to play left field with Thames. We tried to wrap it up as soon as we could. We both have other issues to address."
Jones languished on the Cubs' bench in the first half and was nearly traded. He also heard plenty of boos from fans at Wrigley Field as he struggled early. Once he started playing, his game picked up.
Hendry said Jones was pleased to be going to a team that was in the World Series not long ago.
"Jacque was fine. We had a nice conversation before he went home before the season was over. He knew the possibility existed," Hendry said.
"I think he felt good about it. ... He played well here in the second half and helped us get into the postseason. Hopefully, it will be a good situation for both clubs."
With Jones gone, Hendry said the Cubs would probably turn to young players such as Felix Pie and Sam Fuld in center, adding that infielder Ronny Cedeno also has been working in the outfield.
Detroit is now focused on adding a veteran starting pitcher, hoping to bring back free agent Kenny Rogers.
"In Kenny's case, they said last week that they wanted to see what was out there," Dombrowski said.