Nationals sign Jamey Carroll, an original National, to minor league deal


Danny Espinosa has more competition for the Nationals’ backup infielder spot. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

The Nationals reunited with veteran infielder Jamey Carroll, agreeing to terms with the former National on a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, where he will have “a really good chance of making the team,” a person familiar with the situation said. The deal will include incentives, which are still being worked out.

Team officials have said all winter they plan on Danny Espinosa to be their utility infielder. Carroll provides another option who has experience with a bench role. The Nationals have sought more experience for their bench this winter after several young reserves scuffled for them last season. In 121 career at-bats as a pinch hitter, Carroll has hit .339 with a .417 on-base percentage.

Carroll, who turns 40 in February, hit .211 last season, mostly as a second baseman and third baseman, with the Twins and Royals. Carroll plays excellent defense, but last season was one of the least productive offensive players in the league, posting a .267 on-base percentage while slugging .251.

Carroll lives in Viera, Fla., right around the corner from Space Coast Stadium, the Nationals’ spring training home. In recent seasons, he has worked out with Nationals players during informal workouts before heading off to his own team.

Carroll was a member of the inaugural 2005 Nationals, a sparkplug utility infielder and favorite of Manager Frank Robinson. Back then, if you had to guess which six original Nationals would still be active eight years later, the sawed-off 31-year-old who slugged .284 might not have made your list.

But Carroll’s positive clubhouse demeanor and defensive versatility have kept him in the league. He jumped from the Rockies, Indians, Dodgers, Twins and Royals, keeping alive a major league career that did not begin until age 28 with the Expos.

The other five 2005 Nationals still in business: Marlon Byrd, Endy Chavez, Jon Rauch, Luis Ayala and Ryan Zimmerman, who debuted as a September call-up after getting drafted that summer.

 

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