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Late Wednesday night, the Boston Red Sox agreed to a monster seven-year, $142 million deal with free agent Carl Crawford. On Saturday -- the same day single game tickets went on sale -- the team officially introduced their new outfielder.
"They seemed really sincere about it," Crawford said. "[Epstein] told me about how I could play with the players that they have here, that I really think are great players, and just the whole thing about how we can win and how he said I could help this team immediately.
Crawford added that his six-year old son "is a closet Boston fan."
When I told him I was coming to Boston, he was more excited than me. And that's when I knew I had made the right decision. ... The feeling feels so good that you couldn't pass that up."
With Saturday's introduction also came details of Crawford's contract, a deal that reportedly the Angels matched in both years and money. Here's how it breaks down over the next seven years, from the Boston Globe (via the AP):
2011: $14 million
2012: $19.5 million
2013: $20 million
2014: $20.25 million
2015: $20.5 million
2016: $20.75 million
2017: $21 million
Signing bonus: $6 million. $1 million payable on Jan. 10 and $1 million payments on May 1, June 1, July 1, Aug. 1 and Sept. 1.
All-Star team: $50,000
Gold Glove, Sliver Slugger or World Series MVP: $100,000 each
ALCS MVP: $75,000
MVP voting: $200,000 for 1st, $125,000 for second, $100,000 for third, $75,000 for fourth, $50,000 for fifth
No-trade rights: The player can select two teams and the Red Sox one that he can't be traded to. The Red Sox have selected the Yankees.
The finals details are still being worked out, and he still has to pass his physical, but unless there's something drastic, Carl Crawford will be roaming the outfield for the Boston Red Sox in 2011, agreeing to a seven-year, $142 million deal late Wednesday night.
That's a lot of money -- at $20.28 million per year, it makes him the highest paid outfielder in the game -- so what exactly are the Red Sox getting?
Offensively, they're getting someone who most compares to Roberto Clemente, and a leadoff hitter for the next seven years. He's a solid hitter -- .296/.337/.444 for his career, with an OPS+ of 107 -- with some pop, averaging 14 home runs each season, and a career high of 19 homers (in 2010).
Crawford's WAR (Wins Above Replacement, which asks, "If this player got injured and their team had to replace them with a minor leaguer or someone from their bench, how much value would the team be losing?") was 6.9 in 2010, ninth best in all of baseball (Adrian Gonzalez came in at No. 22, with a 5.3 rating).
His on-base percentage is pretty average (career .337), but once he gets on base, he's an immediate threat. Crawford has led the A.L. in stolen bases four times in his nine year career and average 54 swipes a season. He'll run and run often, and with a success rate of 82%, he probably be standing on second with the middle of the Red Sox lineup coming up.
But it's Crawford's defense that makes him a special player. The 2010 Gold Glove winner was the fourth-best outfielder in all of baseball in 2010, with a UZR of 18.5. For comparison, J.D. Drew, the Red Sox' best statistical outfielder, came in at 3.8; Jacoby Ellsbury has a career UZR of 15.1, including a -9.7 in 2009 (remember, zero is average).
At about 7:45 p.m. EST Wednesday night, Red Sox' GM Theo Epstein told reporters that Boston had not made much progress at Day 3 of the MLB Winter Meetings: "Nothing really new. Moved the ball forward on a couple of negotiations and moved it backward on a few." Roughly four hours later, they had agreed to a monster seven-year, $142 million deal with Carl Crawford. I guess that what he meant by "Moved the ball forward" on a negotiation.
That gives the Red Sox their second huge acquisition of the offseason, along with Adrian Gonzalez, and a lineup that could like something like this:
With Jason Varitek, Jed Lowrie and Mike Cameron on the bench.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman sums up the addition of Crawford in six words: "Good move. Good player. Great player." Our Red Sox blog, Over The Monster, expands (after focusing on the now, and not when the Red Sox are paying $40 million to a pair of 36-year olds):
So let's take all the contributions of the left fielders, and turn them into Carl Crawford. 11 runs below average offensively? 19 below average defensively?
Crawford was worth 32 runs offensively last year (9th best amongst outfielders, for those skeptics of Crawford's offense), and 18 defensively. For those who don't care to do the math, the difference is 80 runs, or about 8 wins.
Carl Crawford would have changed last year's team from an 89-73 team missing the playoffs to a 97-65 division winner.
An exact science? No. Maybe Crawford's defensive value will take a hit thanks to playing in left field (if he does). Maybe somehow Fenway doesn't end up helping his numbers. Maybe Adrian Beltre somehow manages to break his ribs.
But it still sounds pretty nice.
The Red Sox have made their second big move of the offseason, reportedly signing outfielder Carl Crawford to a seven-year, $142 million deal. The move was first reported by the Boston Globe's Peter Abraham and quickly confirmed by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.
The deal is still not official -- Rosenthal says there is "still some guaranteed language to be worked out" -- and Crawford must pass a physical, but it's "close to being done." The deal will make him the highest-paid outfielder in baseball history with an average salary of $20.2 million per season.
Combined with the Adrian Gonzalez extension, that's a reported $296 million the Sox have agreed to pay in the past three days.
At Over The Monster, they're "shocked," and a little wary of the huge contract.
While Carl Crawford has the "young player" type of skills that don't tend to decline as quickly, seven years is still a long contract, and at $20 million per year, the Sox are putting a heavy investment in a player whose best skill is limited by their home park. Sort of the opposite of the Adrian Gonzalez deal.
Additionally, since Crawford is a Type-A free agent, the Red Sox will have to surrender a first-round pick.
Boston has been after Crawford the past couple weeks, but the Jayson Werth deal with the Nationals indicated to many that Crawford would be too expensive to land. Apparently not. The free agent outfielder also reportedly met with the New York Yankees on Wednesday.
Crawford has spent his entire nine-year career in Tampa Bay, hitting .296/.337/.444. The four-time All Star has led the A.L. in stolen bases four times, and in 2009 he set a career-high with 60 swipes. This likely gives the Red Sox an Opening Day outfield of Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and J.D. Drew.
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