When reports arose late last week that the Twins had signed Jamey Carroll, many people were surprised to see a 37-year-old utility man receiving $7 million in guaranteed money. In the Offseason GM Handbook, we estimated a one-year, $1 million deal for the aging infielder.
That's how it tends to go with free agent signings made in November, though. Early in the offseason, teams aggressively pursue the players that are on their radar, and will often pay a premium in order to take them off the market quickly. We saw it again yesterday, with the announcement that the Dodgers signed second baseman Mark Ellis (who posted a meager .634 OPS as a 34-year-old this year) to a two-year contract worth over $8 million.
Fans get ornery when their favorite team takes a passive approach to the offseason, especially in the wake of a 99-loss campaign. However, this is generally a smart tactic. Two of the best free agent signings of the Bill Smith era were Jim Thome and Orlando Hudson, and both those contracts were inked in the final weeks of the 09-10 offseason.
The Twins made their initial splash quickly this year, paying a considerable sum to lock up Carroll in spite of the fact that several seemingly similar infield options will probably end up signing for about half that price. I'm sure they have their reasons. But I expect things to slow down now as the Twins let the market play out, and there's nothing wrong with that.