With utility players Willie Bloomquist, Nick Punto, Kelly Johnson and Skip Schumaker off of the board, MLB teams are expressing interest in free agent infielder Jamey Carroll. At least seven teams have checked in on Carroll, including the Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians, Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays, an industry source told sportsnet.ca.
Carroll spent the 2013 season with the Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals, appearing in 73 games while playing second base, third base and shortstop. The 39-year-old veteran of 12 MLB seasons hit .211/.267/.251 in 2013, a dropoff from his career norms.
Carroll, who debuted with the Montreal Expos in 2002, has a career batting line of .272/.349/.338. Known for his control of the strike zone, Carroll swings and misses less than 4 percent of the time. This places him among the league leaders and contributes to his lifetime 410 walk to 581 strikeout ratio. On defence he offers versatility with most of his experience coming at second, third and short.
The Blue Jays’ interest level in Carroll is not known. General manager Alex Anthopoulos has a reputation for thoroughness, which means interest can sometimes be a matter of due diligence.
The Blue Jays currently have Ryan Goins and Maicer Izturis slated to handle second base in 2014. Yet Anthopoulos told reporters Wednesday that he’d like to add some competition and depth at second base heading into spring training. The Blue Jays believe in Goins’ glove, but they have interest in adding another option. Carroll could be viewed as a right-handed hitting complementary player capable of replacing the recently retired Mark DeRosa.
The market for utility players typically includes many modest one and two-year deals, and this year has not been an exception. Punto signed for one year and $3 million; Schumaker signed for two years and $5 million; Johnson agreed to sign for one year and $3 million; Bloomquist agreed to sign for two years and $5.8 million.
Discussions between Carroll and MLB teams are expected to pick up at the Winter Meetings with further discussions tentatively scheduled for the Swan and Dolphin hotel in Orlando.