Utility infielder Jamey Carroll is 39-years old and in midst of the worst season of his 12-year major league career. That however did not stop the Kansas City Royals from acquiring him from the Minnesota Twins this afternoon. The Star Tribune’s Phil Miller tweeted out the news this afternoon that Carroll had been dealt with the return either a player to be named later or cash.
As was the case when the Twins dealt reserve/minor league catcher Drew Butera to the Dodgers in a deadline deal, the return for Carroll figures to be minimal. Terry Ryan appears to be trading off the least valuable pieces instead of some of the more valuable ones and I for one support that mode of operation. After all, it’s not a major leap of faith to believe the Twins can compete in 2014 if they revamp their starting rotation.
The Royals will be Carroll’s sixth professional organization joining the Nationals/Expos (02-05), Rockies (06-07), Indians (08-09), Dodgers (10-11) and Twins (12-13). He’s a career 0.274/.351/.340 hitter over the course of 1,261 major league games which looks good on the surface. But, as any Minnesota fan can attest, he’s declined rapidly and is a shell of the player he was with the Dodgers just a few seasons ago. Completely devoid of power, his 13 career home runs gives him an average of just over one per season. Prior to his time in Minnesota he consistently displayed above-average on-base skills peaking with a 0.379 OBP with Los Angeles in 2010 but those days also appear to be squarely in the rear-view mirror.
During the 2013 campaign Carroll has seen his playing time evaporate while hitting 0.230/.284/.262 in 202 plate appearances. He has experience at 2B, SS and 3B and has been above average defensively at all three according to his career UZR/150 numbers. This year however, he’s been below league average at both 2B and 3B with a well above average mark at SS (though he’s only played 17 innings there). His skills in the field have eroded just as quickly as those at the plate.
Making a total of $3.75 million this season, Carroll’s contract includes a $2 million team option, with a $250k buyout, for 2014. That option transitions to a player option with no buyout if he winds up with more that 401 PA this year.
The deal makes sense for Minnesota as Carroll’s value is all but non-existent. They have younger, more talented and more productive players entrenched at 2B, SS, and 3B. All three of those players also still have better seasons in their future. While it’s being spun as a chance for Carroll to go play meaningful baseball, his subtraction from the Twins roster should result in the team getting better. After all Ron Gardenhire can’t put him in the lineup if he’s not available, and whoever takes Carroll’s limited PA’s will assuredly bring the potential for more production. That alone makes this a deal a “win” for the Twins.
In moving to Kansas City, he lands at the feet of another manager that has an unhealthy fascination with playing small ball – one that actually exceeds Gardy’s. Ned Yost loves the bunt, he loves defensive replacements and loves pinch runners. Key for Jamey Carroll – Yost also loves to give playing time to players who bring very little to the table (see; Johnson, Elliot).
The acquisition of Minnesota’s 25th man makes sense in the most basic of terms for the Royals as Johnson has hit even worse than Carroll in 2013 with a 0.187/.227/.252 slash line. The Royals need help at 2B as they’ve recently placed Chris Getz and Miguel Tejada on the disabled list this month and Johnny Giavotella has been out of Omaha’s lineup since July 23rd with an injury of his own. Still it’s inconceivable that Carroll with provide the Royals with any value above and beyond what Omaha’s 24-year old 2B/SS Christian Colon could offer up.
For Kansas City, Carroll will serve as a temporary stop gap and little else. Minnesota’s “return” for his services will most likely be negligible and will likely fall on the cash considerations side of the equation. Dayton Moore loves to make unnecessary deals and it appears he’s added another one to his resume.