|12.11.10 at 12:41 pm ET|
The Red Sox formally announced the signing of Carl Crawford to a seven-year, $142 million deal Saturday, with the raspy-voiced outfielder (he was under the weather) joining Sox general manager Theo Epstein at the podium.
Here are some of the things we learned over the course of Crawford’s first visit to Fenway Park as a member of the Red Sox:
- The Nov. 30 meeting between Epstein, Red Sox manager Terry Francona and Crawford in Texas went a long way.
“Throughout the course of the conversation that you could see a synergy developing, that the things that were important to him were also important to us,” Epstein said.
“We talked about the hitters in the lineup that might complement him really well, we kind of hinted that we might be making another acquisition for a good left-handed first baseman,” added Epstein, referencing the acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez. “We got the sense that he kind of sat up in his chair as the meeting went on. We sensed some genuine excitement. We had a good feeling coming out of that meeting, but we also knew he had some attraction to other organizations as well.”
“[Epstein] came to Houston and made me feel like he really wanted me, and that was big for me to feel like I was going to go somewhere where the people actually wanted to have me,” Crawford said.
- Things gained steam in a hurry just before the deal was finalized late Wednesday night. According a major league source, the Angels had set a deadline for Crawford to accept their offer by 11 p.m. Wednesday. The Red Sox received a call from the agents shortly after 8 p.m. that night relaying what it would take to get a deal done. While the Red Sox’ part of the deal that included the money increased as the deadline approached, the team had always been offering the seven years.
“We’ve been working on it for a while,” Epstein said. “We really liked where we were. As far as our position in the negotiations, we felt we had made a connection with Carl at the meeting, and that he was really intrigued by being part of our lineup, especially after we traded for Adrian, that kind of piqued his interest even more. We thought we were well positioned and we were prepared to under the radar grind it out a little bit, stay involved. We felt like, in the end, he would want to stay here. Then another club put a deadline on him and we had just a couple of hours to make a decisive move.
In the end, contrary to initial reports immediately after the deal was done that the Angels’ offer was for $108 million, it is believed that the Los Angeles proposal was comparable to the one presented by the Red Sox.
“There were very competitive, if not identical, financial offers at the end,” Epstein said. “His agents asked if everybody is at the end, ultimately at the end, where do you want to be, and he said Boston. It came to quickly on another team’s deadline, so we were able to act quickly.”
- The Red Sox feel Crawford has come a long way as a hitter, especially since the outfielder introduced Epstein to the world of general managing in the big leagues with a walk-off home run in the Sox’ GM first game in his position with the Sox in 2003. (That home run came off of reliever Chad Fox on a low-inside slider.)
“He really has evolved as a player, and a hitter particularly,” Epstein said.
“At that time (in 2003), you really wanted to stay away from one spot, you wanted to stay away from down and inside to him because it wasn’t that he couldn’t handle pitches in other zones, like up and away, but there were just so much you could do with those pitches. You could sort of limit your damage by throwing those pitches in the strike zone. It was a tough, but appropriate, start to my general managing career.”
Epstein noted that Crawford, whose power throughout his career has primarily been to right field, will be working on driving the ball the other way to take advantage of Fenway’s left field wall.
“As a hitter he covers so much more of the zone that he used to,” the GM said. “That pitch away from him, he’s really comfortable hitting that ball to left field. At times, and I think this is what I think he’s going to work on this winter, really driving the ball the other way, not just slapping it the other way, but driving it.
“I do see sustainable power for him. Right field is a little bit deeper than parts of Tropicana. But when he hits them they’re no-doubters.”
- As Epstein said, the Red Sox “are not going to apologize” for the size of the contract.
“We also have to look at our situation where we’re competing within a division, especially with a team, that has significant resources, so we have to do the best to compete,” Epstein said. “I know this is a significant long contract, I don’t think this is an irresponsible spend at all. If you look at it, our discipline over the years, our reliance on young players, the acquisition of someone like Adrian Gonzalez making $6.3 million, puts us in a position to do this.
“If you look at the biggest contracts in the history of the game, you have to go really far down the list to find one that we’ve done. This is the first contract of this nature that we’ve done since I took over as GM and since this ownership has been here. We’ve tried to do others in the past and we’ve walked away because of limits, and we would have walked away because of limits on this one as well. But one contract like this one in eight or nine offseasons I don’t think irresponsible. I think it’s the aggressiveness that complements the framework of discipline of value and reliance of young players that we have.
“I’ve worked in a small market where you can’t even consider acquisitions like this, and that’s part of the equation down there. This is part of the equations for teams and and markets like ours and given that we’ve been really selective over the years in showing restraint over the years. This one made a lot of sense because of how we were positioned, adding the players of the caliber of Gonzalez and Crawford, who are 28 and 29 years old, respectively, and in their prime years. It makes a ton of sense for me. We’re not going to apologize for this.”
The breakdown for Crawford’s contract is as follows: ’11: $14 million; ’12: $19.5 million; ’13: $20 million; ’14: $20.25 million; ’15: $20.5 million; ’16: $20.75 million; ’17: $21 million.
- While Crawford said he will hit anywhere in the order the Red Sox put him, Red Sox manager Terry Francona noted that the lefty hitter will almost certainly hit somewhere near the top of the lineup, perhaps second or third.
- The Red Sox viewed Crawford as a significantly better player than Jayson Werth.
|12.11.10 at 12:35 pm ET|
Sporting the World Series championship ring from 2007, Jason Varitek sat comfortably Saturday in his seat at the end of a conference table in room off the EMC Club at Fenway Park, declaring that he’s is more than ready to return for the 2011 season.
‘It’s awesome, it’s awesome,” said Varitek, who signed a one-year deal for $2 million, plus incentives. “Did I hope for it? Yes, I hoped for it and wished that it would happen. Did I necessarily this go-around, they may go in other directions? Yeah. I was excited I didn’t have to make that final decision.’
What Varitek returns to is one of the best scenarios he could have hoped for with Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez on board.
“It’s like a tale of two different [scenarios],” Varitek said. “The [Red Sox] Nation wasn’t as happy as they are now with what’s gone on. To expect it, no. To expect us to win, yes and how much that takes to do that, you have to be in the right places. That gives us a chance but we still have big steps to take for this team to be good.”
But he admitted that between the end of the season and Saturday, this was the off-season he actually thought he might not return as captain as the Red Sox.
‘This, more than any time in my career, I had probably the most interest from other teams and it was probably in the same regards that they have a need for the same and have a same type thing and it might not be here [in Boston],” said Varitek, who did not disclose the teams or how far along he was in the process.
‘You don’t know what’s going to happen. You never know what’s going to happen with injuries, etcetera. So I have to prepare like I know how to prepare everyday to physically and mentally be ready to play every day. That’s not necessarily the case but physically that’s what I have to do.’
A broken right foot limited Varitek to just 39 games in 2010, when he hit .232 and belted seven homers for the Red Sox as a back-up to Victor Martinez. He comes back in 2010 and actually could have a more prominent role on the team as he helps Jarrod Saltalamacchia learn the pitching staff.
‘Going into this last one, I figured a few more years but I don’t know,” Varitek said. “At this point of my career it’s almost a year to year basis of seeing where I’m at but physically, I think it’s a few more years.’
‘I’m excited,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “I think ‘Tek did an amazing job on the transition. That’s not an easy thing to do, to be like a stalwart. For many, many years be the captain, and then be asked to handle a reduced role, I think what Tek did, his role didn’t get reduced. He didn’t allow it to be.
“He picked it up in other areas, whether it was helping out the other catchers or his teammates, and as much as we appreciated, that’s why we appreciate it, because it’s not easy. He handled it with a lot of class and dignity. We’re actually thrilled he’s back. I think it’s easy to lose sight, because he got injured last year. but he was having a really productive year. this isn’t all about helping salty. This is about helping us win games. he’s going to catch.’
|12.11.10 at 11:23 am ET|
According to a major league source, the Red Sox finalized the seven-year, $140 million deal for Carl Crawford 10 minutes before an 11 p.m. Wednesday deadline set the Angels. Momentum in the negotiations gained steam shortly after 8 p.m. when the agents for Crawford informed both teams of the parameters it would take to get a contract done. While the Red Sox did increase the monetary portion of their offer as the Angels’ deadline approached, they had consistently been at seven years. For more Red Sox coverage, see the team page at weei.com/redsox.
|12.10.10 at 7:39 pm ET|
According to multiple reports, the Angels have signed free agent relief left-handed pitcher Scott Downs to a three-year deal worth $15 million.
MLB.com/NESN’s Peter Gammons and Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal both reported the deal, with Rosenthal noting that Downs can make up an extra $1 million based on games finished. The Blue Jays will receive a first-round compensation pick and a second-rounder from the Angels in next year’s draft for the Type A free agent.
Over his last four years, Downs has posted a 2.36 earned run average for the Blue Jays.
|12.09.10 at 2:59 pm ET|
ESPN baseball analyst John Kruk joined The Big Show on Thursday, praising the Red Sox for the signing of Carl Crawford and noting that it is now crucial for the Yankees to sign free-agent starter Cliff Lee.
“It’s imperative,” Kruk said. “Not just because he’s left handed, but because Phil Hughes and CC Sabathia are the only to starters that are dependable. They need another one if they want to compete.”
Kruk pointed out that Crawford was likely drawn to the Red Sox because of the stability in the lineup and that “they can win two or three championships by the time” his deal expires.
Even if the Yankees were to sign Lee, Kruk felt that the Red Sox would still the best team in the league.
While he applauded the move to get Crawford, Kruk saw the acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez as the Sox’ biggest move, saying that “they just got an MVP” by trading for the slugging first baseman.
“He might be the best hitter in baseball in that ball park,” Kruk said of Gonzalez. “‘¦ It’s not going to shock me if he’s a 50-50 guy with 50 homers and 50 doubles in that ballpark. ‘¦ His average is going to go up at least 30 points just because he’s hitting in Fenway.”
|12.09.10 at 1:56 pm ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — It is easy to forget that the Red Sox still have more to do this winter.
The signings of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford are what will define the team’s offseason, but the Sox are quick to acknowledge that their work is incomplete. Indeed, insofar as GM Theo Epstein said at the start of the meetings that the team’s top two priorities were “bullpen, bullpen,” it is clear that more activity lies ahead for the Sox.
–Yes, the Sox are still looking to fill out a bullpen whose only certain members for next season are Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard, Scott Atchison and Tim Wakefield (albeit with a strong internal candidate for a relief job in Felix Doubront).
“The bullpen remains a priority,” said Epstein. “That market has seemed like it was on the verge of really moving for the past two or three days and I think we all thought it would break at the meetings. It hasn’t quite yet, so we’re still involved with a number of relievers through free agency and a couple through trade. It remains a priority.”
–Epstein said that, if the club loses its first-round draft pick (No. 24 overall) for signing a Type A free agent (Crawford), it would not necessarily provide an incentive or disincentive with regards to signing another Type A free agent.
“If a club were to lose its first rounder, then going forward, you might say it might not want to sign another compensation free agent because it would also lose its second rounder,” said Epstein. “But you could make the argument that the second rounder isn’t as valuable as the first rounder so it allows the club to be more aggressive. It doesn’t rule anything like that out or doesn’t rule anything like that in.”
The Sox, according to sources, have not ruled out giving up a draft pick for left-handed reliever Scott Downs. At this point, the Sox would have to give up a second-round pick to sign him. With the team not expected to pursue either Grant Balfour or Rafael Soriano (the only other Type A relievers on the market), none of the other free-agent bullpen options are expected to cost the Sox a pick.
–Epstein said that the Sox could still be in the market for complementary bench players.
–Speaking generally, he also said that the Sox could be in better position to deal players from their big league roster. Presumably, the Sox could have outfield surplus from which to deal, as even before a deal with Crawford becomes final, they have nine outfielders (J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron, Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald, Josh Reddick, Daniel Nava, Eric Patterson and Jordan Parraz) on their 40-man roster.
|12.09.10 at 1:03 pm ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The reverberations continue to be felt.
The morning after the news of Carl Crawford‘s agreement to a deal with the Red Sox, it remained the foremost topic of chatter as the Winter Meetings drew to a close. It was not merely that the Sox had delivered a baseball bombshell by acquiring an All-Star player in Crawford. It was the combination of the Sox’ acquisitions of Crawford and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, one of the best offensive players in the game who is also a Gold Glove defender, that proved dizzying.
Immediately, the suspicion emerged that the Yankees and Angels would have no choice but to scramble for counter strikes. New York GM Brian Cashman was peppered with questions about whether he felt compelled to sweeten his offer to pitcher Cliff Lee in the aftermath of the Sox’ deal with Crawford. He insisted that he did not feel such a compulsion, even as he acknowledged that the Sox had just delivered a haymaker. Read the rest of this entry »
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