After the Rays were eliminated last night, left fielder Carl Crawford told Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune, "I don't want to leave. Everybody knows that. I like it here, and I've made that known and wish something was able to be worked out." Crawford added to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times today that it's a "high possibility I probably won't be back next year." With the Rays lowering payroll, he's out of their price range. Let's take a closer look at his free agent case.
- Crawford is a well-rounded offensive player. He hit .307/.356/.495 this year with 19 home runs, showing the best power of his career. He's a burner on the basepaths, typically good for 50+ steals at a success rate above 80%.
- He's one of the game's best defensive outfielders in left field.
- Crawford is a relatively young free agent at 29. Perhaps he'll age better than most due to his athleticism.
- The contract will be a major commitment - at least five years and more than $15MM per season. Crawford is the best available position player, and it wouldn't be a shock if bidding reached seven years and nearly $20MM per season. Most $100MM deals have been regrettable.
- Signing Crawford will cost a draft pick, as the Rays will offer arbitration and he'll turn it down.
- Crawford will probably remain in left field. If his speed slips and his slugging percentage suffers, his power could be below-average for the position.
MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith named a slew of potential Crawford suitors in August, but the Angels, Red Sox, and Tigers are perceived as the early favorites. Crawford could be the first position player to sign for $100MM+ without a 20 home run season on his resume.