Various outlets are now confirming Pete Abraham’s report that the Red Sox have inked Carl Crawford to a whopping seven-year, $142 million deal, which although not an unexpected outcome is somewhat surprising considering the length and dollar value of the deal. Nonetheless, the Red Sox have made another move that should boost their ballclub over the long-term, and in the process thrown down the gauntlet to the Yankees. Listed below are some thoughts on the deal as well as other immediate ramifications:
1) If the Crawford camp was willing to move quickly with the Red Sox, does that mean they believe the Yankees are about to sign Cliff Lee, which would have removed a possible suitor from the bidding process? If so, the news that Lee will now make a decision over the weekend could foreshadow his future in pinstripes.
2) Carl Crawford is a quality player, without a doubt, but 2010 kind of stands out as a career year. If he reverts to his previous norm, is $20 million really a reasonable price? Probably not, but although they hate to admit it, the Red Sox make lots of money. So, like the Yankees, they can pay a premium for talent. Once concern, however, is defense. Much of Crawford’s value is related to his ability to play an excellent left field, but much of that contribution will be mitigated by playing 81 games in front of the Green Monster. In other words, the Red Sox will be paying for a talent that Crawford can only use on the road. Although a less than optimal use of resources, it is a sacrifice a team like Boston can afford to make.
3) If the Yankees get Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte returns, the team’s top three pitchers would all be left handed. With the addition of Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to a lineup that also includes JD Drew and David Ortiz, that could provide the Yankees with an advantage when playing their rivals.
4) Much is often made about the Yankees and Red Sox always trying to one-up each other, but the fact of the matter is both teams actually wind up being better off when their rival is strengthened. Why? Because it weakens the rest of the league, which in turn makes it more likely that both teams will make the playoffs. By Crawford signing with the Red Sox, the Rays have been weakened and the Angels failed to improve. If the Yankees sign Lee, the Rangers take a hit. In other words, there may not be a third team capable of challenging the two AL East powers.