Nov
14

Scouting The Trade Market: Jamey Carroll

By

(Ed Zurga/Getty)

Although patching the major roster holes (right field, catcher, two rotation spots) are the team’s primary concern this offseason, there are other parts of the roster that could be upgraded. The Yankees are reportedly seeking an upgrade over Jayson Nix, which to them means someone who can play 100 games between shortstop and third base next year. Given Derek Jeter‘s ankle injury and Alex Rodriguez‘s perpetual status as a breakdown candidate, having a quality utility infielder is a pretty good idea.

Unfortunately good bench help is really hard to find, especially on the middle infield. The free agent market has nothing to offer beyond multi-position guys Marco Scutaro and Jeff Keppinger, who will get paid like starters and guaranteed more playing time by other teams this winter. The Yankees will likely have to turn to the trade market to find an upgrade over Nix, but again these guys are not easy to find. Infield depth is a scarce thing these days.

The Twins, however, have a number of young middle infielders on their 40-man roster and one old guy: 38-year-old Jamey Carroll. They signed the veteran utility man to a two-year deal last offseason with the idea of making him their regular shortstop, but he wound up bouncing all around the infield as other players got hurt or didn’t perform. By the end of this season, kids like Pedro Florimon, Brian Dozier, and Eduardo Escobar were playing regularly. Minnesota figures to continue rebuilding next year, which could mean their veteran infielder may be available. Let’s break his game down…

The Pros

  • Despite his age, the right-handed hitting Carroll has been what amounts to a league average hitter over the last three seasons: .282/.359/.334 (98 wRC+) in over 1,500 plate appearances. He’s especially adept and hitting lefties, tagging them for a .315/.384/.396 (121 wRC+) since 2010.
  • Carroll is a contact machine from the right side. Over the last three years he’s struck out in 12.8% of his plate appearances (12.1% this year), far better than the league average. His 90.7% contact rate since 2010 is the 13th highest in baseball, so he doesn’t swing and miss at all.
  • In addition to all that contact, you’re also going to get some walks. Carroll has walked in 10.3% of his plate appearances since 2010, including 9.7% this year. He’s also averaged 4.23 pitches per plate appearance during that time, which is Nick Swisher and Joe Mauer territory. Gives his walk and contact rates, Carroll isn’t an easy at-bat.
  • Although he’s not a speedster, Carroll has gone 31-for-40 (78%) in stolen base attempts over the last three years. He’s also only been on the DL once since 2005, and that was when a pitch broke his left hand in 2009.
  • Carroll has a ton of experience at the three non-first base infield spots, and I mean recently as well. He’s spent a lot of time at second, short, and third for the Dodgers and Twins in recent years, and the various metrics rate him as average or better in each spot. Carroll has played some corner outfield in the past, but I wouldn’t expect him to do it now.
  • The Twins signed Carroll to a two-year contract worth $6.5M last winter, so he’s owed $3.75M next season. The deal also includes a $2M club option ($250k) for 2014, which is reasonable.

The Cons

  • Carroll has zero power. He hit a homer in early-September this year that was his first since 2009, so that .052 ISO since 2010 is no accident. Add in the fact that his ground ball rate has been climbing in recent years (typical for older players) and he’s even less likely to hit for power going forward.
  • Carroll also can’t hit righties. This year he managed just a .240/.318/.269 (68 wRC+) line against same-side pitchers, and over the last three seasons it’s been a .269/.349/.310 (89 wRC+) line. That’s a problem.
  • Despite the solid stolen base totals, Carroll has only taken the extra base 42% of the time over the last three years and 39% of the time over the last two years. That’s below-average.
  • Per the terms of his contract, Carroll’s club option becomes a player option if he records at least 401 plate appearances next season. It’s never good for the team when the player controls his own contractual destiny, especially with the 2014 payroll plan looming.

Because he’s short (5-foot-11 and 175 lbs.) and white and runs hard and handles the bat well, Carroll has earned the “gritty” and “gamer” tags. His game has also drawn comparisons to David Eckstein’s, though Carroll draws more walks and is better defensively, especially on the left side of the infield. More importantly, he’s proven throughout his career that he can be productive both as a true reserve player off the bench and in a starting capacity. That’s not easy to do and it seems to be what the Yankees are looking for.

Carroll is a unique player in that he has utility infield skills but receives a starter’s playing time and salary. Only a handful of those guys exist and even fewer of them get traded. The Rockies swapped an up-and-down arm (Clayton Mortensen) for Scutaro last offseason, which is probably our best trade reference. The Twins are reportedly seeking pitching help after finishing the season with an MLB-worst 4.66 FIP (4.77 ERA), but I don’t know. Adam Warren? Brett Marshall? Mikey O’Brien? Would one of them work? Is it too much to give up? The answer is maybe across the board. Carroll fits what the Yankees are looking for as a utility guy who can legitimately play 100+ games and not be a zero with the bat though, and as an added bonus he brings plenty of patience and some much-needed contact skills.

Categories : Hot Stove League

58 Comments»

  1. 0-Fur is Murder says:

    Do you know your average for “Scouting the Trade Market” canidates and guys who actually come to the Yankees? Just wondering if they ever get the guy and if it has ever been close to when you wrote the post.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      I don’t know what it is but it’s not good. I try to write up every reasonable candidate — they weren’t going to get both Hunter and Choo, for example — and other guys that appear to fit a need as well. I did write up Kuroda, Laffey (!), and Swisher (before the Scouting The Market thing existed in it’s current form). Few others as well.

      • 0-Fur is Murder says:

        Thanks. I read these and I say to myself that it sounds so good how could they not get this guy, I’m sure you say the same as you are writing these.

  2. Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan says:

    No. Just no.

  3. Kosmo says:

    Yanks could have signed Maicer and didn´t. Keppinger would be next on my list. I also wouldn´t be surprised if NY went with David Adams as the utility IF at 3B and 2B. He´s had a strong AFL showing.

    • RetroRob says:

      Keppinger is interesting, although is a SS anymore than Nix is?

      I would think there would be more utility players who play both SS and 3B, yet I feel there are more who play 3B and 2B. Surprising since many players who start out at SS or third end up at second because they lack the arm for the other side of the infield. Maybe it’s just this year.

    • vicki says:

      i’m glad we didn’t sign maicer for what he got.

      blue jays are ruining baseball.

      • Kosmo says:

        3 years 9 mil ? Carroll at the age of 38 was making similar dough. Maicer is the better ballplayer.

      • 0-Fur is Murder says:

        If the Blue Jays can afford it then good for them. For me, what ruins baseball is when a player signs a huge contract with a team and then in a few years the team is crying poverty and they can’t afford the guy they signed.

  4. CMITCH says:

    What about Stephen Drew? We know he can play SS and should be able to learn 3B. His value’s pretty low right now. The only issue is that he might want to sign somewhere where he’d play everyday.

    • RetroRob says:

      He’s be a logical player, yet I’m sure he will want to go to a team where he can play full time. Question is, will any team give him that opp?

  5. PridePowerPinstripes87 says:

    Seems like a nice fit who could fill the utility role nicely. Being a contact hitter able to hit lefties fills some needs.

    A bit off topic, but seeing the conjecture on the nats signing bourne and laroche then could the yanks try to get morse? Can play RF and hits right handed,his D isn’t good but seems like there’s no perfect option out there.

  6. Ronnie Mustillier says:

    (sniff) what about me guys?

    • Kosmo says:

      spell your name correctly ! Mustelier. I´m hoping you´ll make the team out of ST. You need to work a bit on your D

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      Looks like the Yankees have decided you’re not an infielder.

      Also, not being able to spell your name correctly raises age/identity questions.

  7. Steve S says:

    Too much additional payroll to add considering how slight of an upgrade he is over Nix, who will be making near minimum. That is to say, the difference between Nix and Carroll is not $3 million. Unless the Twins want to pay half of his contract, I’d avoid.

  8. Chesser says:

    Well, if a left-hander is on the mound, you definitely want Jeter and ARod in the lineup. So you’d ideally try to time their rest days for right-handed starters–setting aside those games where they DH against lefties. Their back-up will face a lot of right-handed pitching.

    Jamey Carroll is terrible against right-handed pitching.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      Right. But if they are going to DH mostly against LHP (as they should), their back up is going to play mostly in those games. It doesn’t make much sense to DH ARod or Jeter frequently against RHP, so the only time the backup would play against RHP would be when Jeter or ARod got a full day off. I would think both Jeter and ARod would get more DH days than full days off.

  9. Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

    I’m not sure if Carroll is the solution-his age and lousy hitting against righties concerns me but I think it’s pretty important for the Yankees to upgrade their utility infielder position over Nix and Eduardo Scissorhands with Jeter coming off ankle surgery and Arod perennially injured

  10. The numbers vs. RHP aren’t ideal, but I think I’d be for bringing him in.

  11. Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

    Tigers signed Tori Hunter for 2/$26 million.

    Good deal for them since Hunter is a HUGE upgrade over what they got last year over Brendab Boesch, Delmon Young or Avisail Garcia who were all worse than replacement level.

  12. ADam says:

    Fascinated to see what the roster will look like after Jan-1

  13. Athenian says:

    I think it is interesting that the majority of press is that the Yankees need to upgrade their bench, specifically Nix.

    They do not have any pieces to trade – either because the pieces are unproven, undeveloped, or bloated contract – and with payroll restrictions, they cannot freely sign yet, upgrading Nix is the least of the issues this team has.

    I am now convinced that the front office is working in a bubble unaware that there is sun in the sky or water in the ocean.

    • What the press thinks doesn’t necessarily line up with what the Yankees think.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      They have no pieces to trade?
      You think the front office’s focus is only on upgrading over Nix?

      Sounds like somebody is working in a bubble unaware that there is sun in the sky or water in the ocean. Sounds like you’re the one not aware of what’s going on.

      • 0-Fur is Murder says:

        I wish I could work in a bubble, that would be so cool!

      • Athenian says:

        please tell me the pieces they have to trade. Seriously, there are none that will get them anything valuable because the Yankees refuse to trust younger players. They are not going to pay teams to take their players and get nothing in return – still counts against payroll. They won’t get real value trading any of the following – Nova, Hughes, Granderson, Gardner (only players who do not have bulging contracts) – there is nothing substantial in AAA, AA, but plenty below that which won’t bring viable talent – there is ONLY ONE MIAMI out there.

        And I don’t think the front office is only focused on Nix, but they might as well be because they have few options remaining to upgrade, fix, or repair and meet the 189 payroll next year.

        • 0-Fur is Murder says:

          There is also a Miami in OH…

        • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

          3 top 50 prospects
          Gardner would be a cheap starting CF and leadoff hitter for several teams.
          DRob.
          A few cheap back of the rotation candidates…etc.

          What is viable talent?
          They have plenty of pieces that could be packaged to land viable starting P, starting OF, etc.

        • jjyank says:

          The blue chippers aren’t in AA or AAA, but guys like Warren, Adams, CoJo, Montgomery, Whitley, Marshall, etc. do have value. Since we’re talking about a utility infielder, we shouldn’t need a blue chip prospect regardless. There are plenty of pieces to trade for such a player.

          • Athenian says:

            Totally agree, but I think a utility infielder is the least of this teams issues. There is still the aging/declining production of the infield. No 2nd or 3rd starter. Hughes is #4. The outfield has some defense in Gardner and as much as I like Granderson, his defense is average and his hitting is near auto out. But the guys you mentioned won’t get much in return, I would guess.

  14. eric says:

    Any chance that we could get a LoMo for LF writeup? Move Gardner to CF and Granderson to RF?

  15. 0-Fur is Murder says:

    Really dissappointed in the lack of comments from the “Nunez for every single open position on the roster” camp

  16. the Other Steve S. says:

    Nunez and $50 million for Stanton

    • 0-Fur is Murder says:

      Make Miami throw in 50 million and maybe the Yankees will consider a Nunez for Stanton trade. Gotta remember, Nunez is our starting SS, 3B, RF, LH and DH next year :)

    • Jobu says:

      I am intrigued by your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  17. Dennis says:

    ” Because he’s short and white”

    Im offended

  18. forensic says:

    38 years old? Go for it! He’ll be a big help in their quest to field the oldest roster in MLB history.

  19. cranky says:

    Jamey Carroll isn’t better than Jayson Nix.
    And he’s old.

    It would be worth spending a few mil on Stephen Drew.

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