Free agent Carl Crawford is about to become a very rich man. The only thing left to decide is if Crawford will sign with the New York Yankees or another team during the next baseball offseason. Almost as soon as the final pitch is thrown in the 2010 World Series, the bidding will begin on the best hitter available in free agency. The Tampa Bay Rays have already announced that they will be cutting payroll, and that means quite a few of their better players will become expendable. Expect trades in the Tampa Bay future, but first they will lose Crawford to free agency.
According to Carl Crawford’s bio, he is still just 29 years old, and could have a lot of baseball in front of him. He is coming out of a six-year, $31 million contract that he signed back in 2005 for Tampa Bay. Now he is sure to make more than $5 million per year on average, and he will probably be courting an overall contract of nine figures. There aren’t many teams out there that will be able to spend more than $100 million on a new outfielder, but the teams with deep pockets could be waging a huge bidding war in order to attract Crawford to their cities. That is exactly what Crawford and his agents would love to see.
In his nine-year Major League career, Crawford has been a .296 hitter, hitting better than .300 five times. That includes the 2010 season, where he hit .307 for the Tampa Bay Rays. He also led the league in triples for the fourth time, and stole more than 40 bases for the seventh time. Crawford also made his fourth American League All Star team, showing that he is indeed one of the best outfielders in baseball.
The question will be just how much a player who can hit .300, knock in 90 runs and steal almost 50 bases a season is worth in this market. To a team that really needs a left fielder, that could be quite a bit.
It has long been assumed that the Yankees would be one of the teams bidding to get Crawford into the fold, and there is no reason to believe that they won’t be in the market. Putting him out in left field could make the Yankees even better than they currently are. The question will be how much the Yankees are willing to go north of $200 million when it comes to their yearly payroll. Crawford may also only be their second choice on the market, because they would really like to get Cliff Lee into the fold. Maybe Crawford is someone the Rangers should target after they re-sign Lee, because that would make their lineup even scarier.
No matter how the free agency period plays out, Carl Crawford is going to end up a very rich man, and a new team will have a superstar corner outfielder. Who should try for him the hardest? Obviously the Seattle Mariners need offense, but that might make too much sense.