Tampa Bay Rays' Carl Crawford makes a sliding catch against the Seattle Mariners during the third inning of their MLB American League baseball game in St. Petersburg

So: is the Carl Crawford deal actually, you know, a good one?


The shock of the Carl Crawford signing cannot be overstated. Everyone assumed that the Angels had him locked up. The Red Sox really just swooped in at the last minute and destroyed the competition for the guy with those seven years and that $142 million. No, they didn’t literally swoop, but it was about as close to literally as it could be without Theo Epstein putting on a mask and cape and jumping from a chandelier and physically grabbing him.

After the shock came the Cold War analysis: what does this mean for the Yankees? What does this mean for the Red Sox? What does this mean for Cliff Lee?  We covered all of that already and it’s interesting, but for anyone who is not a Red Sox or Yankees fan, that is the most annoying aspect of all of this. Those teams were already at the center of the universe before this. They don’t need more light shined on them, frankly.

What people are only now starting to get their minds around is whether, you know, this is actually a good deal for Boston in terms of the money doled out and the production they can expect to receive.  My answer: it’s not terrible but it’s not particularly good either.

I’m not saying Carl Crawford is bad. Far from it. I like his game more than a lot of people, actually. I think his power increase is sustainable and that he’ll age better than a lot of the people who believe that when his legs go he’s done.  But I don’t think he’ll age well enough to justify these dollars and a contract of this length.

Crawford is a career .296/.337/.444 hitter, which puts his career OPS+ at 107.  Which is OK, because obviously a lot of his value comes on defense and on the base paths. But as David Pinto points out in an excellent post over at Baseball Musings, time stops for no man, especially men whose game is built on speed.  He has never hit more than 19 homers.  Once he stops being a force on the bases and loses a step or two in the outfield, even a spike up to 25-30 home runs a year won’t justify $20 million+ at the back end of this deal.

This is better than the Jayson Werth deal, but that’s somewhat faint praise. But to make it truly good, Crawford — who turned 29 back in August — will have to experience an uncommon elevation of his game as he enters his 30s.  Could it happen? Sure, and if there is anyone whose work ethic and competitive fire lends itself to such a thing it’s Carl Crawford.  But such career patterns don’t occur frequently, and I don’t think I’d bet on it happening with Carl Crawford.

But hey: it’s not my money and the next two or three years ought to be pretty sensational regardless.

Mariners interested in free agent outfielder Nori Aoki

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New Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has kept pretty busy in his short time on the job and Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that free agent outfielder Nori Aoki could be his next target. The club recently pursued a trade for Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, but the asking price has them looking at alternatives.

Aoki, who turns 34 in January, has hit .287 with a .353 on-base percentage over four seasons since coming over from Japan. He was having a fine season with the Giants this year prior to being shut down in September with lingering concussion symptoms.

The Giants decided against picking up Aoki’s $5.5 million club option for 2016 earlier this month, but he should still do pretty well for himself this winter assuming he’s feeling good.

Report: Johnny Cueto is believed to be looking for a $140-160 million deal

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It was reported Sunday that free agent right-hander Johnny Cueto had turned down a six-year, $120 million contract from the Diamondbacks. He’s hoping to land a bigger deal this winter and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has heard some chatter about what he’s looking for.

Jordan Zimmermann finalized a five-year, $110 million contract with the Tigers today, which works out to $22 million per season. Arizona’s offer to Cueto checked in at $20 million per season. A six-year offer to Cueto at the same AAV (average annual value) as Zimmermann would put him at $132 million, which is still a little shy of the figure stated by Crasnick. Of course, Cueto owns a 2.71 ERA (145 ERA+) over the last five seasons compared to a 3.14 ERA (123 ERA+) by Zimmermann during that same timespan, so there’s a case to be made that he should get more. Still, he’s the clear No. 3 starter on the market behind David Price and Zack Greinke.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, and Cubs are among the other teams who have interest in Cueto. One variable in his favor is that he is not attached to draft pick compensation, as he was traded from the Reds to the Royals during the 2015 season.

Report: Around 20 teams have contacted the Braves about Shelby Miller

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The rebuilding Braves have already been active on the trade market and they might not be done, as CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that right-hander Shelby Miller has been a very popular name. In fact, around 20 teams have checked in.

Nothing is considered close and the Braves have set a very high asking price, mostly centered around offense. They asked for right-hander Luis Severino in talks with the Yankees and would expect outfielder Marcell Ozuna among other pieces from the Marlins. The Diamondbacks and Giants are among the other interested clubs.

Miller is under team control through 2018, so there’s not necessarily a sense of urgency to move him, but anything is possible with the way the Braves are doing things right now. The 25-year-old is coming off a year where he went 6-17, but that was about really rotten luck more than anything else, as he had a fine 3.02 ERA and 171/73 K/BB ratio over 205 1/3 innings. The Braves gave him the worst run support of any starter in the majors.

Mets expected to tender a contract to Jenrry Mejia

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 12:  Jenrry Mejia #58 of the New York Mets reacts as he walks off the field after getting the final out of the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field on July 12, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Jenrry Mejia appeared in just seven games this past season due to a pair of suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets are expected to tender him a contract for 2016.

While the Mets were vocal about their disappointment in Mejia’s actions, it makes sense to keep him around as an option. Had he played a full season in 2015, he would have earned $2.595 million. He’s arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and figures to receive a contract similar to his 2015 figure, but he’ll only be paid for the games he plays. He still has 100 games to serve on his second PED suspension, which means that he’ll only be paid for 62 games in 2016. This likely puts his salary closer to $1 million, which is a small price to pay for someone who could prove useful during the second half and beyond. He also won’t count toward the team’s 40-man roster until he’s active.

Mejia, who turned 26 in October, owns a 3.68 ERA in the majors and saved 28 games for the Mets in 2014. He’s currently pitching as a starter in the Dominican Winter League.