The Red Sox have been extremely aggressive this offseason, trading for Adrian Gonzalez and signing Carl Crawford. With Adrian Beltre on his way out and Kevin Youkilis ready to move to third, the trade for Gonzalez makes a lot of sense. The Red Sox outfield, however, is already filled with Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron, and JD Drew. The Red Sox must have perceived OF to be a point of weakness though, since they just made Crawford the highest paid outfielder ever.
So how does the outfield shake out? The Red Sox could trade one of their incumbents, but dealing Ellsbury or Cameron would mean trading them when their values are at their lowest point. Drew makes a good deal of money, so I’m not sure what kind of market there would be for him either. It seems likely that Cameron will become a pricey bench player who will spell Ellsbury and Drew, who are both injury prone.
As for the actual signing, as a Yankee fan, I am pleased. Of course I don’t want the Red Sox to have Crawford, but they had to pay top dollar to get him. 7 years and $142 million is a crazy amount for a player who is 28, relies on speed, and isn’t great at getting on base. Crawford is definitely a great player, but a lot of his value lies in his tremendous base-running and defense, both of which could see a steady decline in coming years, and the Red Sox have him locked up for his age 29-35 seasons.
It is also interesting that the Red Sox have acquired one of the game’s best left fielders to play in Fenway, the smallest left field in baseball. Obviously they think his speed will still translate into great run prevention. On this count, I am going to trust that the team knows enough about it’s own park to know what Crawford can provide, despite my initial reaction that Fenway would seemingly waste Crawford’s talents.
The Yankees have no real need for Crawford and corner outfield is one of the easiest positions to fill if a need does arise. Brian Cashman had dinner with Crawford, but admitted that it was just a rouse to drive up Crawford’s price. In that regards, Cashman’s play just might have worked.
I’m sure there will be people clamoring that the Yankees should have signed Crawford, but the bottom line is the Red Sox have too many resources not to sign their share of great players. As long as the Red Sox are forced to pay accordingly for those great players, there is nothing else the Yankees need to do. Handing out a mammoth contract to a left fielder just doesn’t make any sense for the Yankees so they should be content to let the Red Sox pay that bill.