Could Carl Crawford soon be trade bait?

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3410.jpgThat’s what Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe is hearing:

The feeling is that if the Rays’ financial picture gets any gloomier,
Crawford will be trade bait by the trading deadline or even earlier. In
fact, both he and Carlos Pena could have new addresses at some point in the season.

This really shouldn’t surprise anyone. The 28-year-old Crawford — who had his $10 million option picked up by the Rays in November — is on the verge of hitting free agency for the first time. General manager Andrew Friedman has expressed a desire to lock Crawford up with an extension, but knowing that he could receive a contract equal to, if not better than what Chone Figgins and Jason Bay found this winter, it would be a surprise to see him take a discount.

The loss of Crawford would be a blow, both for his contributions on offense and defense, but fortunately the Rays have 23-year-old outfielder Desmond Jennings quickly rising through their minor league system. There’s many who say he’s ready to contribute at a high level in the major leagues right now, so while I wouldn’t expect Friedman to operate with any particular timetable in mind, it would be an easier sell to the fan base if they were looking up at the Red Sox and Yankees in July.