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.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.
The Nationals are trying to go big this offseason, and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes that they are still in trade talks for White Sox’ left-hander Chris Sale and Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Both players figure to command a big return, as Sale delivered another Cy Young-worthy performance in 2016 and, despite a downturn in his production rate, McCutchen is still one of the more coveted sluggers in the National League.
In 2016, Sale led the league in complete games, with six, and turned in a 3.34 ERA and 5.2 fWAR in 226 2/3 innings. While teams have been sniffing around the White Sox’ ace since the trade deadline, the club is expected to maintain a high asking price — so high, said FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, that it may keep the left-hander in Chicago for the foreseeable future.
According to Heyman, four other teams are reportedly in the mix for Sale, including the Red Sox, Astros, Rangers, and Braves, though parts of Rosenthal’s tweet hinted that the Red Sox were maintaining their interest in hopes of striking a more affordable deal. Should the Nationals pursue a deal for Sale, it’s likely that they’d have to move shortstop/center fielder Trea Turner, which they appear reluctant to do.
McCutchen, meanwhile, is also drawing interest around the league after batting .256/.336/.430 with 24 home runs in 675 PA during 2016. He didn’t appear to lose much power in his eighth season with the Pirates, but took considerably fewer walks and struck out at a career-high clip.
The Nationals were said to be in the lead for McCutchen on Thursday, and there was some expectation that the club would wrap up a trade for the center fielder by the non-tender deadline on Friday. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi pointed out that the Rangers were also talking to the Pirates, however, and no deal has come to fruition as of yet.