Whenever a reporter asked Nationals manager Frank Robinson about Carroll, the skipper's face would light up and he would always say, "Every team needs a Jamey Carroll." Robinson admired the fact that Carroll, 32, was the most fundamentally sound player on the team, never complained about playing time and produced on the field when he played.
Robinson and general manager Jim Bowden had been debating for several weeks about what to do with Carroll, who hit .251 with 22 RBIs in 113 games. While Robinson encouraged the signing of Clayton, who will compete with Cristian Guzman for the starting shortstop position, the manager didn't want Clayton signed at the expense of Carroll. Robinson felt that Carroll deserved to be with Washington because he has been a valuable player for the organization for three-plus years.
However, Bowden was bothered by the fact that the Nats' bench was unproductive in 2005, and he didn't feel Carroll was a good fit. Carroll didn't drive in enough runs and some in the organization felt that he was not good enough defensively to replace a player like Guzman.
With Carroll no longer on the team, Robinson is going to have to find a new utility player who can play shortstop, second and third base.
"I'm going to miss Jamey very much," Robinson said. "What he did for me for three-plus years, you couldn't ask for anything more. I don't know what I'm going to do without him. You can't find Jamey Carrolls every day. It's not just what he brings to the field, it's the type of person that he is.
"You can't find that combination of a player, who has the will to do whatever it takes to help the team and keep himself ready. He is not a problem on the ballclub. In three-plus years, he has never complained about lack of playing time or being taken out for a pinch-hitter."
As for Carroll, he knew a trade was coming for a couple of months. In December, Carroll, outfielder Ryan Church and a Minor Leaguer were almost traded to the Diamondbacks for right-hander Javier Vazquez. But Arizona backed out of the deal.
With Colorado, Carroll is expected to be in a similar role, and he will serve a mentor to shortstop Clint Barmes. In an ironic twist, Carroll and Barmes were at a fundraiser in Indiana, their home state, on Friday night. Carroll also will be reunited with right-handers Zach Day and Sunny Kim, who played the Nationals last season.
"I know the guys are young in Colorado," Carroll said. "I think they want someone to step in and play here and there. That's fine. I think I will get more of an opportunity to play because guys like Barmas are young. You have to be smart how to play them. I'm looking forward to [playing for the Rockies]. It's good that a team wants you."
Carroll said he is grateful that Robinson gave him a chance to play in the Major Leagues. Carroll struggled in the Minor Leagues for six-plus seasons before Robinson gave him a chance in September 2002, when both were with the Expos.
"I'm thankful for everything," Carroll said. "I appreciate what Frank has done for me. I don't know anything else but [the Nationals/Expos]. It's going to be strange."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.