Incredible. Absolutely incredible.
According to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, the Red Sox have reached agreement on a seven-year, $142 million contract with outfielder Carl Crawford, making him the richest outfielder in Major League Baseball history.
The Angels were called the front-runners for Crawford all day long at the Winter Meetings and reports just hours ago had them moving aggressively toward the finalization of a contract.
All that talk must have woken up the Boston front office, because they barged in with a massive deal and secured a signature this evening.
It’s a bold but brilliant move by a club that missed the playoffs this year for the first time since 2006. Lest we forget, they added Adrian Gonzalez from the Padres just a few days ago. Gonzalez is a solid defender at first base and Crawford covers all sorts of ground in the outfield.
The defense is good. The offense is even better.
Crawford hit .307 with 19 homers, 90 RBI and 110 runs scored in 2010 for the Rays. He was worth 6.9 WAR (Wins Against Replacement), more than Robinson Cano and Miguel Cabrera. Gonzalez slugged 31 home runs this year while playing half of his games in baseball’s biggest park. He’s going to punish Fenway Park’s Green Monster with doubles and a whole lot of homers.
Seriously, check out this spray chart of Gonzalez’s hits from this season. Those are all of the spots that the first baseman sent baseballs in 2010 at PETCO Park, overlapped as to where they’d land if he were batting in Fenway.
To improve so vastly on both offense and defense in one winter is remarkable and possibly unprecedented.
The Red Sox are alive and well. The American League East is out of control.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.