Big time: Red Sox, Crawford reach seven-year $142M deal

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Incredible.  Absolutely incredible.

According to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, the Red Sox have reached agreement on a seven-year, $142 million contract with outfielder Carl Crawford, making him the richest outfielder in Major League Baseball history.

The Angels were called the front-runners for Crawford all day long at the Winter Meetings and reports just hours ago had them moving aggressively toward the finalization of a contract.

All that talk must have woken up the Boston front office, because they barged in with a massive deal and secured a signature this evening.

It’s a bold but brilliant move by a club that missed the playoffs this year for the first time since 2006.  Lest we forget, they added Adrian Gonzalez from the Padres just a few days ago.  Gonzalez is a solid defender at first base and Crawford covers all sorts of ground in the outfield.

The defense is good.  The offense is even better.

Crawford hit .307 with 19 homers, 90 RBI and 110 runs scored in 2010 for the Rays.  He was worth 6.9 WAR (Wins Against Replacement), more than Robinson Cano and Miguel Cabrera.  Gonzalez slugged 31 home runs this year while playing half of his games in baseball’s biggest park.  He’s going to punish Fenway Park’s Green Monster with doubles and a whole lot of homers.

Seriously, check out this spray chart of Gonzalez’s hits from this season.  Those are all of the spots that the first baseman sent baseballs in 2010 at PETCO Park, overlapped as to where they’d land if he were batting in Fenway.

To improve so vastly on both offense and defense in one winter is remarkable and possibly unprecedented.

The Red Sox are alive and well.  The American League East is out of control.

Gerrit Cole second-fastest to 200 strikeouts in a season

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Astros starter Gerrit Cole dominated the Athletics on Monday night, limiting them to one run on two hits and a walk while striking out 11. It marked his 12th start out of 22 this season with double-digit strikeouts, giving him 205 total on the season.

It is no surprise, then, to hear that Cole is the second-fastest in baseball history to reach 200 strikeouts in a season, per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. Cole got there in 133 1/3 innings. The only pitcher faster than Cole was Randy Johnson, who reached 200 K’s in 130 2/3 innings back in 2001 with the Diamondbacks.

Along with the 205 strikeouts, Cole holds an 11-5 record with a 3.03 ERA across 136 2/3 innings. Among qualified starters in the American League, only Charlie Morton (2.61), Mike Minor (2.86), José Berríos (2.96), and teammate Justin Verlander (2.99) have a better ERA than Cole, who has twice finished in the top-five in Cy Young Award voting.