Designating Crawford could bring about a significant financial hit for the Dodgers, who will likely have to pay the remaining $35MM on his contract, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter). Crawford, who’s signed through next season, “got caught in the numbers game,” Dodgers vice president of baseball operations Josh Byrnes told MLB Network Radio (Twitter link). The Dodgers do have a slew of non-Crawford outfield options in Joc Pederson, Trayce Thompson, Scott Van Slyke, Howie Kendrick and Enrique Hernandez – not to mention the injured Yasiel Puig and Andre Ethier – but this is nonetheless quite a fall from grace for such a high-profile player.
As a quality hitter who offered excellent defense and established himself as a terror on the bases, Crawford was a premier all-around player with the Rays over the first several seasons of his career. The four-time All-Star’s success in Tampa Bay led the division-rival Red Sox to sign him to a seven-year, $142MM contract in 2010, but Crawford fared poorly in Boston during parts of two seasons. The Red Sox then shipped him to the Dodgers in 2012 as part of a salary-dumping trade that also featured first baseman Adrian Gonzalez going to Los Angeles. As noted by the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham (Twitter link), Crawford was just two days removed from Tommy John surgery at the time.
Injuries have long been an issue for Crawford, who appeared in just 310 games with LA prior to today’s designation. He began this season on the disabled list with a back issue and returned to appear in 30 games, during which he hit a terrible .185/.230/.235 in 87 plate appearances. To Crawford’s credit, he was a solid piece for the Dodgers from 2013-15 – slashing .286/.328/.414 with 18 home runs and 48 steals in 1,032 trips to the plate – but LA has now deemed the soon-to-be 35-year-old expendable.
Crawford, a career .290/.330/.435 hitter who has swatted 136 homers and stolen 480 bases, could catch on elsewhere at a cheap cost after he clears waivers (assuming no one claims him, of course). The Dodgers would have to pick up the remainder of his salary.