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MLB Minnesota Twins

Will Minnesota Twins Curb Veteran Jamey Carroll’s Playing Time for Contractual Reasons?

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Jamey Carroll didn’t break into the big leagues until 2003 when he was 29 years old. It was a long journey through the minors for the speedy infielder who has enjoyed a formidible career in his 30’s. Carroll signed a contract with the Minnesota Twins in 2012 after hitting .290 in consecutive years for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He’s a true utility infielder playing 66, 44 and 37 games at second base, third base and shortstop, respectively. And even though he hit a respectable .268 in 2012, one must wonder, is this the end of the road for Jamey Carroll?

Carroll’s versatility has its benefits for the Twins, especially as they attempt to develop several young infielders. He’s a steadying, veteran presence in a clubhouse that has only two players born in the 70s. And after watching him play consistently for a year, I can say the guy really hustles. Basically, he’s a very likable ball player–one that respects the game and has found his niche in the Major Leagues.

What’s interesting about Carroll’s upcoming year is his contract situation. If he gets 401 plate appearances in 2013, his 2014 option will switch from a team option to a player option. An option Carroll, who says he wants to play into his 40s, will likely take. If the Twins were constructing a starting lineup to win games, Carroll would surely be in it. However, all signs point to the Twins using 2013 to develop young, talented players. At the time being, it appears Carroll will not be an everyday starter.

Carroll will definitely find himself in the lineup more often than not but he’ll need about more than 110 games to get his 401 plate appearances–a number he’s reached in four of the last five seasons. And while I try to embrace my eternal Twins‘ optimism, it’s hard to imagine the Twins will be playing meaningful games in August and September. It will be interesting to see if the Twins curb Carroll’s playing time as the season wears on so they can retain the 2014 option.