General manager Brian Cashman said today that the Yankees’ interest in Carl Crawford was “pretend” and meant only to drive up the price for the Red Sox, who ultimately signed him to a seven-year, $142 million contract.
That’s easy to say now that Crawford has had the worst season of his career and the Yankees are AL East champions, but Cashman correctly pointed out that he already had a cheaper, younger version of Crawford in Brett Gardner:
I actually had dinner with the agent to pretend that we were actually involved and drive the price up. The outfield wasn’t an area of need, but everybody kept writing Crawford, Crawford, Crawford, Crawford. And I was like, “I feel like we’ve got Carl Crawford in Brett Gardner, except he costs more than $100 million less, with less experience.”
“Everybody kept writing Crawford, Crawford, Crawford, Crawford” sounds very similar to “my baseball people love Ken Phelps’ bat, they kept saying Ken Phelps, Ken Phelps.”
As for Gardner, he’s right. In fact, way back in November when Crawford was being linked to various teams I wrote that “the Yankees are pretty set in the outfield and Gardner in particular has a relatively similar skill set to Crawford at a fraction of the price.”
Gardner doesn’t have Crawford’s power, but his on-base skills, speed, and defense in left field were very similar and he’s earning $530,000 this season while easily out-producing the version making $14 million.
The Red Sox have more or less withdrawn from the Edwin Encarnacion sweepstakes, with Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald noting that much of their reluctance hinges on the likelihood that they’d exceed the new $195 million luxury tax threshold by locking the DH into a lucrative deal. That doesn’t leave them without options, however, and FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported that the club could be interested in 29-year-old corner infielder Pedro Alvarez, as well as fellow free agents Mike Napoli and Matt Holliday.
After playing just 10 games at DH from 2010 to 2015, Alvarez suited up as the Orioles’ primary designated hitter and part-time third baseman in 2016. His defense is sub-par, to say the least, but he batted .249/.322/.504 with 22 home runs for Baltimore in 2016.
According to Heyman, the Red Sox envision using Alvarez in much the same way the Orioles did. He’d have a place as the team’s DH with the occasional infield start, while Hanley Ramirez would keep his post at first base. Whether the Red Sox make offers to Napoli, Holliday or Alvarez, they’re expected to pursue a short-term deal in order to stay under budget.
The Braves signed left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren to a one-year deal, according to a team announcement on Sunday.
Lindgren, the Yankees’ top draft pick in 2014, was nicknamed “The Strikeout Factory” after blowing through four levels of New York’s farm system in 2014. He started the 2015 season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and was called up for his major league debut only two months into the 2015 season. The 22-year-old lasted seven innings with the club before succumbing to bone chips in his elbow, and underwent bone spur surgery in June before trying his luck again during spring training in 2016.
In August, the Yankees shut Lindgren down for the remainder of the season so the lefty could undergo Tommy John surgery. With a projected return date of 2018, Lindgren was non-tendered by the Yankees on Friday.
While the Braves won’t get the benefit of Lindgren’s top prospect skill set in their bullpen anytime soon, he will remain under club control if they keep him on their 40-man roster beyond the 2017 season (per ESPN’s Keith Law).