Cashman: Yankees had “pretend” interest in Carl Crawford to “drive price up” for Red Sox

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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.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.