With the 2012 MLB regular season now in the books, the Minnesota Twins have now had two straight 90-plus loss seasons. With the deficiencies in the team’s pitching staff, it’s easy to overlook some of the solid moves that were made in terms of position players last offseason.
The signing of infielder Jamey Carroll to a two-year deal, $6.75 million deal last winter was certainly not an exciting move, but general manager Terry Ryan recognized the need for an infielder that could simply be reliable defensively and the now 38-year old Carroll fit that bill.
Carroll finished his first season in Minnesota with a .268 batting average along one home run, 40 RBI and nine stolen bases over 537 plate appearances. He saw significant action at second base, shortstop and third base, starting at least 30 games at each spot. Ideally he would not have played that much, but injuries, underachievement and lack of better options forced manager Ron Gardenhire to write Carroll’s name in the starting lineup 130 times over the course of the 2012 season.
Carroll is slated to make $3.75 million next season, so that alone means he is virtually certain to remain with the Twins since another team would not want to give up anything of value in a trade if they have to take on that kind of salary. That said, there are not many untouchable players on the Twins’ roster heading into 2013, and if a contending team in search of a veteran middle infielder comes calling over the winter Ryan would have to listen. The Twins may have to pay some of Carroll’s 2013 salary to help facilitate a trade if the opportunity comes, but that would be a fair cost to pay to get something of value in return.
If Carroll returns to the Twins next season, he would best serve as a veteran mentor to the younger players that will hopefully be in place across the Twins’ infield. Players like Trevor Plouffe, Pedro Florimon, Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar should have every opportunity to earn significant roles next spring, and ideally Carroll’s presence would not prevent one of those guys from being on the Opening Day roster if they have earned it. In any case, Carroll would be unlikely to play nearly as much as he did this season and that has to be a good thing for the Twins overall.