12/08/07 11:40 AM ET
Rockies deal Carroll to Indians
Rox get player to be named, free up money for free agent
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
Dealing Carroll, who hit .300 in 2006 as the Rockies' primary second baseman, but dipped to .225 last year and finished in a late-innings defensive role, helps free money for a free-agent second baseman. The Rockies also are trying to re-sign veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins or replace him if he signs elsewhere.
Tadahito Iguchi is at the top of the Rockies' list of targets as the starter at second base, where the club neeeds to replace Kazuo Matsui, who signed with the Astros. Mark Loretta has the lucrative fallback of accepting arbitration from Houston. David Eckstein also has emerged as a possibility.
For the Indians, Carroll, who turns 34 on Feb. 18 and is guaranteed $2.3 million next season, could satisfy one of the club's biggest holes -- a utility infielder. Carroll is a career .272 hitter with Montreal/Washington (2002-05) and Colorado (2006-07).
When Matsui left, Carroll said he wasn't sure at first if he was in the Rockies' plans as a starter, but following the Winter Meetings and seeing that the Rockies were heavily in the free-agent market convinced him he would be leaving. Carroll said he never asked to be traded; nevertheless, it was encouraging to him that teams were interested.
"This is an exciting opportunity for me, and it's good to know that teams see value in me," said Carroll, who said he discussed his role with Indians general manager Mark Shapiro on Friday. "I'm going to a team that finished one game away from the World Series and playing against the Rockies.
"I'm going to play a utility role and I'm good with that. I'm always prepared. I'm ready to do anything to help the Indians."
Carroll's versatility -- he plays second, shortstop and third, and has been used in the outfield -- has made him a favorite among his managers. Rockies fans also took to his all-out style of play.
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"I just feel blessed to have played here for two years," Carroll said. "I had the opportunity to play, then I had the opportunity to play in a World Series, even though we lost [to the Red Sox]. I wouldn't trade the time I shared with the Rockies in the clubhouse and with the fans for anything."
Dealing Carroll leaves Colorado with a group of younger players who would compete for the starting job if a free agent isn't signed or for playing time if one is obtained.
True middle infielders are Clint Barmes, who also has attracted trade interest and has played a utility role after losing the shortstop job to Troy Tulowitzki, Omar Quintanilla, who has seen utility duty the last two years, and Jayson Nix, who stated his case during a strong 2007 at Triple-A Colorado Springs and a Most Valuable Player performance for gold medal-winning Team USA in the World Cup.
A source on Friday confirmed other reports that the Rockies discussed Indians right-hander Sean Smith, but he will not come Colorado's way.