In a move there have been low-level rumors about for days, Dan O'Dowd and the Rockies shipped utilityman Jamey Carroll to the Indians for a PTBNL. Caroll's role in 2006 with a 76-win Rockies team was everyday second baseman; with a 90-win team in 2007, he was a sub. That's a pretty accurate assessment of his value -- on a contending team, he's a backup. It might seem like a bad idea to be shedding middle infielders at this point in time considering that Kazuo Matsui just signed with Houston, but the line on this trade from the beginning has been that with the money saved on Carroll, who wished to be given an opportunity to start elsewhere, O'Dowd will pursue former White Sox infielder Tadahito Iguchi.
If I am reading the tea leaves correctly, the Rockies will end up signing Iguchi for less per year and fewer guaranteed seasons than the Astros did Matsui, who got a 3-year, $16.5 million contract. Although Colorado will be bidding against the team with whom Iguchi completed last year, the Phillies, they have a few advantages. Iguchi wants to play closer to the west coast, which Denver certainly is more so than Philadelphia, and he may not wish to move away from second base -- the Phillies and several of the other teams connected to Tadahito like him as a third baseman. More concretely, the Rockies have an edge over the Phillies because specific language in Iguchi's contract required him to be released 15 days after the World Series if he hadn't re-signed by then (presumably a provision in the player's original deal with Chicago designed to allow him an easy return to playing in Japan were life in the big leagues not to pan out). It's possible the league could waive the rule that keeps free agents from re-signing with a team that nontendered them the previous winter until May 15th, but it's also possible that they won't. If O'Dowd gets Iguchi for two years, and any less than $5.5 million per (Iguchi made $3.5m in 2007), he'll have strengthened the position and saved money. Iguchi is twice the hitter that Matsui is, and is better than half as good defensively.
LaTroy Hawkins looks to return to the Rockies within the next few days, as Colorado has agreed to give the veteran reliever a raise for 2008. With players like Hawkins, one-year deals are all that's called for and that's all apparently that the Rockies are willing to give. In a league that's exploding with ill-considered big-money signings, even in places like Kansas City and Milwaukee, it's nice to see the old home team sticking to such a rational and measured plan.
Update: The Yankees apparently have agreed to sign Hawkins for $3.75 million, which was the value of his option for this season that Colorado earlier declined. LaTroy undeniably pitched well for the Rockies in their stretch run, but I'm still relieved to see him go -- my memory of Hawkins with the Rockies is always going to be the lead he blew on Opening Day 2007. And my overall memory of him will be the unique rude noise my father always made whenever the Cubs sent him into a game.