|Hot Stove: No plans for Red Sox to trade Carl Crawford||12.07.11 at 5:10 pm ET|
DALLAS — The last time the winter meetings were in Dallas after the 2005 season, a Red Sox front office in a state of transition enacted a head-spinning deal. At a time when GM Theo Epstein had left the organization, a front-office-by-committee made the bold decision to trade away shortstop Edgar Renteria just one poor season into a four-year, $40 million contract. In order to shed the shortstop and acquire prospect Andy Marte, the Sox committed to paying $11 million of Renteria’s remaining salary.
It was a stunning move given the high regard in which the Sox had held Renteria when they signed him and the fact that the team had reached the decision that it was time to dump him after just one year.
Given that precedent, it was at least intriguing to wonder whether the Red Sox might once again stun the baseball world and, one difficult season into the seven-year, $142 million deal that was reached a year ago, try to deal away outfielder Carl Crawford.
In a word: No.
Obviously, the demand would be almost non-existent for a player who has six years and $122 million remaining on his contract, particularly coming off a career-worst season in which the 30-year-old hit .255 with a .289 OBP, .405 slugging mark, .694 OPS and 18 steals in 130 games in 2011, his first season in Boston.
Even so, according to a major league source, the Red Sox have not even discussed internally the idea of unloading Crawford. That does not simply reflect the fact that they would be selling low, but also the fact that the team remains convinced that Crawford is capable of bouncing back and reclaiming his status as one of the top players in the American League.
The team believes that all the ingredients remain in place for a bounceback, feeling that Crawford is young and athletic, and that most of his struggles last year were attributable to the challenges of adjusting to a new market and team (something that was not aided by his constant pinballing around the lineup). In contrast, when the Sox dealt Renteria, they viewed the shortstop as 29-going-on-ancient.
His movements were those of an older player who did not look athletic enough to remain at shortstop. The team wanted to cut bait with him at a time when he retained some value, fearing that there was a significant chance that, coming off a 2005 campaign in which he hit .276 with a .335 OBP, .385 slugging mark, .721 OPS, eight homers and nine steals and played terrible defense at short, committing 30 errors. (Renteria, it is worth noting, bounced back with the Braves, for whom he was an All-Star in 2006 and a very good hitter in 2007.)
The Sox do not have a similar sense about Crawford, believing that he retains the skill set and physical tools to resemble the player that he was in Tampa Bay. Towards that end, new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said that he is hoping to meet in person with Crawford before spring training and talk about a number of topics, including what his preferences are for the batting order.
That reflects the reality that the Sox are building a roster that will include Crawford going forward, with virtually no chance that the team would explore moving the outfielder.
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