12-9-2010: Sox sign Carl Crawford!
December 9, 2010 2 Comments
Not a bridge year indeed. Peter Abraham reports that the Red Sox have signed free agent outfielder Carl Crawford to a 7-year, $142M contract. Ken Rosenthal confirms this too. If this is what Theo Epstein means by a complementary player… There go the theories about shrinking the payroll.
Wow. Just wow. It has long been known that the Sox coveted Crawford, but I did not expect this. The Sox are opening up the vaults in their best imitation of the Yankees. There’s one major difference, however. Epstein is locking himself into long-term deals, yes. But he is locking up players who are still in their prime and play defense as well as hit, providing value in more than one dimension.
As MLB Trade Rumors points out, scooping up Crawford is a major coup in a division where they are taking him from the Rays and keeping him from the Yankees. Perhaps drinking his own Kool-Aid on Brett Gardner’s excellent 2010, Brian Cashman was a bit late to the Crawford party, and it cost him big.
Although I still think the Sox would have preferred to sign Jayson Werth first, Crawford is very similar in value, though he does it in a very different manner. Here’s a look at what we might expect out of Crawford over his 7-year deal, at the end of which he will be 35. That’s a pretty good bet he’ll be productive at least until year 6.
The Red Sox will be adding some bullpen help in the coming days, but they are just about set with this move. Consider that an outfield of Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and J.D. Drew should rank as one of the best in baseball. Add to that a strong infield of Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, Marco Scutaro and Kevin Youkilis, and whatever Jason Varitek does at catcher doesn’t really matter.
- Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
- Dustin Pedroia, 2B
- Carl Crawford, LF
- Kevin Youkilis, 3B
- Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
- David Ortiz, DH
- J.D. Drew, RF
- Jason Varitek, C
- Marco Scutaro, SS
That is a strong lineup with on-base ability, decent power and a ton of speed. You could argue that this lineup is a bit lefty-leaning, but you have to figure that Mike Cameron will get playing time all over the outfield. players like Gonzalez are still pretty good, even against southpaws. This lefty bias will only last until next year, when both Drew and Ortiz will likely walk (netting us more draft picks, hopefully). In retrospect, Gonzalez earning just $6M in 2011 is what allowed the Red Sox to make this deal, since those two big contracts are coming off of the books for 2012.
Also consider that the Sox will have two of the best backup players in baseball in Jed Lowrie and Cameron, and you’ve got one heckuva team. I can’t wait to see them in action.