Big time: Red Sox, Crawford reach seven-year $142M deal

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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.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”