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.