Red Sox had scout tracking Carl Crawford “at the ballpark and away from the ballpark” last season

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During a radio interview on WEEI this morning Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein revealed some interesting details regarding the team’s pursuit of Carl Crawford, including the fact that they “had a scout on him literally the last three, four months of the season at the ballpark, away from the ballpark.”

That suggests Crawford choosing Boston wasn’t quite as surprising to the Red Sox as it was to most of the baseball public, but Epstein also said that he entered the courtship thinking the former Rays left fielder had his heart set on signing with the Angels:

I’ll say this, very early in the process, I had some skepticism. I thought it was more likely than not that even if we were very competitive, that we wouldn’t land him. We heard some things just anecdotally that perhaps he didn’t want to go to Boston. Perhaps he’s already dead set an Anaheim Angel.

It turned out that Crawford really wanted to remain in the AL East, so the Red Sox moved quickly because “we were scared … if it dragged on and the Yankees missed out on Cliff Lee, it would create a market that was difficult for us.”

It seems like the Angels gave him a deadline before the Cliff Lee negotiations reached their conclusion, and that played right into our hands. We had spent so much time thinking about it. We had ownership on board. We had to get a hold of them in England, but they moved very nimbly and we were able to wrap it up in a matter of hours when it all came together. We thought it was kind of dormant and we were just going to stay in touch, and five hours later, it was done.

There have been reports that the Angels matched the Red Sox’s seven-year, $142 million offer, but other reports have disputed that and Crawford has indicated that staying in the AL East was definitely a priority.

Josh Donaldson is still seeking a long-term deal with the Blue Jays

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If it were up to him, Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson would finish the remainder of his career in Toronto. In fact, he’d be “ticked pink” if the club decided to sign him to a long-term deal. Whether the Blue Jays share that sentiment is still unclear, as Donaldson said Saturday that the team has yet to engage his agent in extension talks.

“I’ve said that I wanted to be here,” he told MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm. “That’s pretty much all I can say. I’m not the one who makes the decisions, nor would I try to put them in the position to do that. Like I said, I believe the situation will become more fluid when the time is right.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean an extension is out of the question. The Blue Jays reached an unprecedented one-year, $23 million agreement with the three-time All-Star in arbitration, and have been reticent to field trade offers despite continued interest from the Cardinals this winter.

Donaldson, 32, is poised to enter his eighth season in the majors and fourth with the Blue Jays. In 2017, he batted .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs and a .944 OPS in 496 plate appearances, ranking sixth among all major league third baseman with 5.0 fWAR. He’s scheduled to enter free agency following the 2018 season.