Minor league deal. This is the Chris Carter who came up through the D'backs' system, then went to Boston and then the Muts.
This kind of annoys me because it's the sort of alternative I'd have preferred to Lyle Overbay. (PLEASE do not take this as an invitation to resume analyzing Overbay. I think everybody knows now where everybody else stands. I'm only trying to address the question of whether there were alternatives.) I don't know the minors broadly enough to be aware of the full range of alternatives out there, but I've always believed that there are guys like Garrett Jones around, guys who can contribute in an appropriate role - like the dreaded "p" word - for a year or two or three.
Carter always had solid power in the minors with very good plate discipline. He got his first real exposure to the majors in 2010 and didn't exactly tear it up--263/317/389--but he was far from overwhelmed. He fanned only about once every ten ABs and didn't have many more Ks than BBs (17-12). He had only 180 PAs and most of it was off the bench. If he could've had a chance to compete for a role with John Bowker, I have little doubt the Pirates could've signed Carter. He'll have a much tougher time with the Rays, who seem to like Dan Johnson and who might still trade a starter for a hitter.
Without getting into whether you like Overbay or not, I do think there were more inventive alternatives.