Even though the Yankees are in the midst of a battle for the AL East against the menace known as the Tampa Bay Rays, and trying to defend their world title, one cannot help but speculate what the future holds, especially when it involves the speedy left fielder Carl Crawford.
Crawford, who has spent his entire nine season career in Tampa Bay, will be a free agent at the end of this season. Through those nine season, Crawford has averaged a .295 batting average, 13 home runs, 77 RBI’s with an OBP of .336. This season, Crawford is hitting .284 with 15 home runs, 71 RBI’s with an OBP of .347.
Perhaps his greatest tool, Crawford possesses absolutely tremendous speed, stealing 41 bases in 51 attempts, currently second in the American League behind Juan Pierre of the Chicago White Sox.
There is no doubt that the Yankees will be interested in Crawford, especially with his left handed stroke in Yankee Stadium. He will command big money, perhaps in the 16-20 million per year range, and money has never been an issue with the Yankees.
The only question would be the length of the deal. At 29 years old, he will undoubtedly command a 6-7 year deal, maybe more. One can only speculate that there are worries if his legs will hold up, especially towards the tail end of that deal, when he will be 35-36 years old. He is an incredible athlete though, which is a positive.
But, with a possible addition of Crawford, that will mean a subtraction of either Curtis Granderson or Brett Gardner. Nick Swisher is a lock for next season, especially with the year he has put together, as well as his improved defensive abilities.
If I were to guess, it would be Brett Gardner getting the bump. Playing his first full year as a starter, Gardner thus far has put together a pretty good and respectable season, hitting .284 with five home runs, 41 RBI’s with an OBP of .389. He also has 39 stolen bases in 46 attempts. But, after a fast start to the year, he hasn’t been hitting as well of late. Perhaps Gardner could take a reserve role, backing up Crawford and Granderson while providing blazing speed off the bench. Gardner could even be used as trade bait.
Granderson has struggled mightily at times this season, and he has had stretches where he flourishes. He is hitting .249 with 17 home runs and 45 RBI’s this season. He tweaked his swing with Kevin Long in Kansas City, and ever since then he has been hitting better. But, it is after all his first season in New York, and many players struggle in their first full season with the Yankees, adjusting to the Yankee lifestyle. Who knows, perhaps working more with Long in the off season and going into next year with some New York Experience, Granderson could very well get his offensive numbers back to where they were last season with Detroit.
But, next seasons outfield may look exactly like this seasons. Crawford may not even land with the Yankees. He could very well stay put in Tampa Bay, although very unlikely, or he could sign elsewhere. Boston and the Los Angeles Angels of Anahiem are also possible destinations for Crawford.