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With the Nationals signing Jayson Werth, that leaves five teams — the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Angels, and Tigers — that are known to have shown interest in signing free agent Carl Crawford.And while Werth’s $126 million deal certainly raised the stakes for Crawford, the bigger question is: who is going to step up and sign him?
Some have speculated that Crawford is now worth as much as $180 million. And if that is the case, Jayson Stark says that limits Crawford’s options to a grand total of one team, the Yankees.
That would be fine for Crawford if the Yankees were really interested. But at this point, it seems more likely that the Yankees still have their sights set on Cliff Lee and are only flirting with Crawford to drive the price up for the Red Sox or the Angels.
So if not the Yankees, then who? Let’s break down Crawford’s most likely destinations…
Los Angeles Angels: There is some sentiment that the Red Sox are not going to get involved with the Crawford bidding if it gets too high. That leaves the Angels as the favourites. But will they give Crawford $150 million? Well, they gave Torii Hunter $90 million when he was three years older than Crawford is now and half the player. If the price is $144-150 million, look for the Angels to get a deal done.
Detroit Tigers: Stark dismisses the Angels because they have never given out an eight-year deal. And yet he also eliminates the Tigers because they gave Miguel Cabrera eight years. So which is it? It seems like the Tigers are the sleeping giant in the Crawford sweepstakes. They once offered Juan Gonzalez $140 million and Crawford would thrive in Comerica Park’s vast outfield both offensively and defensively. If the Angels balk at Crawford’s asking price, look for the Tigers to swoop in.
New York Yankees: Are they just driving up the price for Crawford? Or is this Mark Teixeira all over again? Remember when the Yankees had no more money and then all of the sudden found $180 million to sign Teixeira at the last minute after signing CC Sabathia? Yeah, this smells a lot like that whether they get Cliff Lee or not.
Texas Rangers: What the Rangers have going for them is that Dallas is close to Crawford’s Houston home and the Astros are not interested. But with Josh Hamilton closing in on free agency, it is hard to imagine the Rangers committing $150 million to another outfielder, even with their sexy new TV deal.
Boston Red Sox: At first it looked like the Red Sox would be more interested in Crawford after Werth signed with the Nationals. But now it is being reported that the Sox are about to give Adrian Gonzalez something in the neighbourhood of $154 million. It is hard to imagine Theo Epstein will hand out two $150 million contracts. That is something only the Yankees do. Other things the Yankees do? Win lots of championships.
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