To this point in the winter, the market surrounding Brandon Crawford has been all but silent in the public sphere, with no rumors of note connecting the longtime shortstop to interested clubs throughout the offseason. That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been interest in the 13-year MLB veteran’s services, however. In fact, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported this morning that Crawford has drawn interest from multiple teams this winter. Rosenthal adds that while Crawford would consider a move off shortstop to second or third base this winter, he could decide to retire “if the right opportunity does not arise.”
Crawford, who celebrated his 37th birthday last week, is coming off a difficult 2023 season where he missed time throughout the campaign with calf, hamstring, forearm, and knee issues that surely hampered his performance throughout the year. The veteran slashed a paltry .194/.273/.314 in 320 trips to the plate with the Giants. He remained a quality defender per Statcast with +6 Outs Above Average at shortstop in spite of the offensive struggles, though Fielding Bible’s Defensive Runs Saved were far more skeptical of his performance, grading him at a brutal -14 figure that was bottom three among shortstops last season.
Despite the varied opinions on his defensive chops at shortstop at this point in his career and his recent struggles at the plate, it’s not hard to see why some teams would have interest in adding Crawford to their infield mix. After all, the veteran is just two seasons removed from an explosive 2021 campaign where he slashed .298/.377/.522 while finishing fourth in NL MVP voting. What’s more, as a left-handed hitting infielder with a career .249/.323/.403 slash line against right-handers, Crawford could perhaps provide a counterbalance to the infield mix of a club heavy on right-handed hitters.
Perhaps the strongest point in Crawford’s favor as he seeks a role in the majors for the 2024 campaign is the dearth of shortstop options available this winter. As things stand, the class is led by Tim Anderson, who is coming off a platform season even weaker on both sides of the ball than that of Crawford, and Amed Rosario, who pairs a below-average offensive season with defense at shortstop that routinely ranks among the worst in the majors according to defensive metrics. While second and third base offer some stronger options, this winter’s infield class as a whole is unusually thing, particularly for a club who can’t afford to make a run for third baseman Matt Chapman.
Rosenthal does not mention which specific teams have interest in Crawford’s services, though he does make clear that a reunion between Crawford and the Giants “appears out of the question.” That’s not necessarily a surprise, as the Giants have been frequently connected to Chapman this winter and appear poised to give top prospect Marco Luciano the keys to shortstop after he made his big league debut late last year.
As Crawford searches for a new organization for the first time in his 16-year professional career, there are a few speculative fits that could make sense for his services. Should Crawford wish to finish out his career in the bay area, crossing the bay to play for the A’s during their final season in Oakland could allow him to do that while offering the young A’s roster a veteran leader who can plug the club’s obvious hole at shortstop, where Nick Allen and Rule 5 pick Darell Hernaiz appear to be the best remaining options. Looking beyond the bay area, the Marlins, Mariners, Rays, and Pirates are among the teams who could use additional infield help that wouldn’t break the bank.