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Red Sox agree to terms with Carl Crawford

12.08.10 at 11:50 pm ET
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According to a major league source, the Red Sox have reached an agreement with outfielder Carl Crawford, as first reported by the Boston Globe. Multiple reports peg the value of the agreement at seven years and $142 million, suggesting that only a physical and some final contract language stand in the way of the biggest deal ever inked by the current Red Sox ownership group.

The $20.3 million average annual value surpasses the $18 million a year that Jayson Werth will receive in his fresh seven-year, $126 million deal from the Nationals. The 29-year-old Crawford was widely considered the top position player in free agency and had reportedly drawn interest from the Angels and Yankees, among others. That said, the Sox had some pause about whether to go to as many as seven years for Crawford, and for a team the team was more enamored of the idea of signing Werth for a shorter term.

But once Werth went for seven years — more than the Sox would have considered — the team made its play for Crawford, resulting in the team’s second blockbuster of the last week. That followed the Sox’ acquisition of slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in a trade with the Padres on Sunday.

The Sox explored other market alternatives. The team had been interested in Werth before he signed his deal with the Nationals. The club also kicked the tires on the possibility of trading for Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran, but those talks never became serious, according to multiple sources. Meanwhile, the team had shown interest in outfielder Magglio Ordonez as a right-handed slugger who might fit on a shorter-term deal.

But the prize of the outfield market all along was Crawford, a player whose impact the Sox have often remarked upon.

“I think he’€™s a game changer,” Sox manager Terry Francona said on the Dale & Holley Show last month. “He’€™s that guy that can change a game defensively, offensively. When he gets on base, he gives you a headache. He has a little bit of that Johnny Damon in him where, he’€™s swinging and I’€™m not sure he knows where the ball is going, but he fouls off six or seven and then he’€™ll rifle one into right field or bounce one and beat it out. He has a way of changing the game. It frustrates the heck out of you. Sometimes you can do everything right, and if he gets on base you can’€™t throw him out.”

For much of the offseason, there was an industry-wide expectation that Crawford might prefer to go to a less intense baseball climate. The Angels and Rangers had both expressed interest in the outfielder, and some believed that he might prefer to play in those cities.

But Rays manager Joe Maddon, who witnessed Crawford’s emergence into an All-Star over the last five seasons, insisted that Crawford will face no problem heading to the Red Sox.

“First of all, they’€™re going to love him. He’€™s going to be embraced. There’€™s going to be a love-fest. He’€™s going to make all types of play, and do all kind of stuff where the Boston fans will fall in love with him immediately, so I don’€™t think there will be any type of negative pressure coming his way to perform,’€ Maddon said on Tuesday.

‘€œHe’€™ll stay to himself, although Carl has come out of his shell a little bit the last couple of years. Going to the playoffs, World Series, being an All-Star MVP, all that kind of stuff, I think he’€™s kind of blossomed in that regard. He might surprise you ‘€¦ He’€™s going to feed off the energy.’€

In nine seasons with the Rays, Crawford hit .296/.337/.444 with 409 stolen bases and 765 runs. He hit .307/.356/.495/.851 with a career-high 19 homers in 2010.

Rob Bradford and D.J. Bean contributed to this report.

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