Carroll will look to do more than just carry a bat in Kansas City. (Photo Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports)

Twins Jamey Carroll Dealt, Singing Kansas City Here I Come

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.

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  • Andres Spivey

    This move cost Dayton Moore, like you said, literally nothing. They didn’t get a player, in Carroll, that KC fans need to be excited about…In fact, they received a player who’s been playing pretty poorly all year. However, if you’ve EVER seen Elliot Johnson play, then you’d know that as bad as Carroll is, this is actually an upgrade at 2B for KC. So to say that this deal was “unnecessary”, really is an inaccurate statement.

    • Wally Fish

      Since I live in Kansas City and my wife is a HUGE Royals fan I watch the Royals pretty much every game (often with the Twins game playing on the iPad via MLB.TV). As such I’m all too familiar with both Carroll and Elliot Johnson. Carroll has been better in some respects than EJ but there are things EJ does better than Carroll so it’s largely a wash in my book and is a move that didn’t need to be made (Dayton Moore’s favorite kind).

      This deal was unnecessary for KC because they could have promoted Colon from Triple-A until one of Tejada/Getz/Giavotella came off the DL or just used Falu at 2B (they called him up anyway). I won’t be surprised if both EJ and Carroll are DFA’d and off the Royals roster before the end of the season.

      As a Royals fan this move makes me shrug my shoulders. As a Twins fan I’m thrilled that Carroll has moved on and his departure opens up some playing time for someone else.

  • Pwnage

    Wally: Did it occur to you that the Royals are in a playoff hunt and that playing a rookie (Colon) at second base would be pretty stupid? The Royals didn’t acquire Carroll to be an offensive juggernaut. They got him to fill the gap until Tejada returns. Then they will platoon those two, hopefully keeping fresh legs on each. Their veteran presence in the dugout will be valuable to a young team who finds itself in a playoff race for the first time in 10 years. It’s not the trade of the century, but it’s a solid move for both teams. The Royals need a second basemen, but that’s not happening until the off-season.

    • Wally Fish

      Thanks for pointing out that the Royals are in a playoff hunt – until you mentioned it, that fact had escaped me.

      Sarcasm aside … Why would it be stupid to have a rookie cover at 2B for a couple weeks? Rookies come up in pennant races and have a positive impact all the time and lets be real – Colon could suck and STILL be better than Jamey Carroll. Falu can also more than capably cover (and actually provide offensive value) plus he’s already been around and played with most of the guys.

      The veteran presence thing is a non-starter. The Royals roster is already loaded with veterans (Shields, Santana, Guthrie, Gordon, Butler, etc) and team leaders – Carroll’s addition does nothing to augment the clubhouse in that regard. KC needs on field production from the position – they have clubhouse chemistry and leadership in droves already.

      Since the deal costs the Royals nothing but salary and cash considerations it’s not the end of the world but it’s still a move they didn’t need to make. As a Twins fan I’m ever so thankful that Dayton Moore took him off our hand though …

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