Twins finish 2-year deal with vet SS Jamey Carroll
There is much to fix before the Minnesota Twins can climb back
into contention. Terry Ryan knew right where he wanted to start
when he resumed his role as general manager.
Veteran infielder Jamey Carroll signed a two-year contract with
the Twins worth at least $6.5 million, a deal announced Wednesday
that includes a mutual option for the 2014 season. Carroll will
turn 38 before spring training begins, but that didn’t scare away
the Twins, who’ve had four opening day shortstops in the last four
years – plus five other players who’ve started several games at one
of the sport’s most important positions.
”We had issues trying to make the routine play,” Ryan said,
referring to last season’s 99-loss debacle. ”I think everybody saw
that. If we can solidify that, it’ll help our pitching staff and
it’ll help a lot of things.”
Carroll is an ”old school type player” as manager Ron
Gardenhire put it, a scrappy, fundamentally sound, trustworthy
veteran who will be asked to stay healthy, set a good example for
the young guys, be strong with his glove and get on base.
He’ll be the quarterback on defense, not offense, but he batted
.290 in 452 at-bats with a .359 on-base percentage last year for
the Los Angeles Dodgers so he’s capable of some production even
though he has only 12 career home runs.
”I understand who I am at the plate. I understand my part of
the game and how I fit in the lineup,” Carroll said. He added: ”I
have no problem going 0 for 4 and moving four runners over to third
base. Hopefully we got four runs out of it, and we won 4-3.”
Ryan said that Carroll will compete for the starting job, but
the Twins didn’t sign him to be a utility man.
He’ll make $2.75 million this season and $3.75 million the
season after that, with the opportunity to earn bonuses for
incentives such as 550-plus plate appearances or winning a Gold
Glove award. If Carroll has 401 or more plate appearances in 2013,
he’ll have the option to return to the Twins in 2014 for $2 million
or become a free agent. If he doesn’t make it to the batter’s box
that many times in 2013, the Twins will have the option, either to
keep him at that agreed-upon 2014 salary or buy out his contract
”I understand this position that we’re in right now and how
this team is made up. I obviously did my homework, and I’m excited
for this opportunity,” Carroll said. ”I understand that if you
want anything in life you’ve got work hard for it to be rewarded. I
knew I was going to hear my age. I don’t think I’m as old as people
think. I do my best to take care of myself in the offseason, and I
go out there with the mindset that I’m going to be playing every
Carroll’s agent, Jonathan Maurer, said several other teams
aggressively pursued his client with multi-year offers. He credited
Ryan, special assistant Wayne Krivsky and Gardenhire for each
contacting Carroll to express their interest.
”Yes, we know his age,” said Ryan, who replaced the fired Bill
Smith last week. ”We also know if you visually look at him he
certainly doesn’t look like he’s 37 or 38. He can still run. He
looks like he’s aged well.”
This is Carroll’s fifth organization in 10 seasons. He has a
.991 career fielding percentage, with experience at second base and
third base. But he’s here to play shortstop, which leaves Tsuyoshi
Nishioka’s future with the team unclear after an injury-impacted
first year in the majors.
Nishioka signed a three-year contract last December for $3
million annually plus a $250,000 buyout if his 2014 option isn’t
picked up by the Twins for $4 million. They also spent $5.329
million on the posting fee, which as the highest bidder to his
Japanese team gave them exclusive negotiating rights. He could be
sent to Triple-A to continue his development, after committing 12
errors in 68 games and hitting just .226 with five extra-base hits
in 221 at-bats.
”We need to find out what kind of player we have in Nishioka,”
Ryan said, insisting he’ll have the opportunity at shortstop.
Since Jason Bartlett was traded after the 2007 season, the Twins
have used nine different shortstops and at least four each year.
They signed Adam Everett in 2008, made a late-season trade for
Orlando Cabrera in 2009, acquired J.J. Hardy for 2010 and then
pursued Nishioka last year. Nick Punto, Brendan Harris, Matt
Tolbert, Alexi Casilla and Trevor Plouffe have all taken their
turns there, too.
Casilla is the second baseman now, and Plouffe will be moved to
the corner outfield spots to take better advantage of his power
potential at the plate.
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