Carl Crawford wants to stay. As his manager, Joe Maddon, would say, “That’s a good thing.”
The Tampa Bay Rays hold a $10 million option for 2010 on their left fielder. After that, Crawford becomes a free agent.
He’s 28. He’s having what Maddon calls the best season of his career. He played in his third All-Star Game back in July. He’s been to a World Series.
How much do you think Crawford can get from one of those big-market, big-money teams that could use a left fielder with Crawford’s combination of speed, power and defense?
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We may not know, because Crawford wants to remain a Ray, and he would like the matter settled before the start of spring training, which means Crawford is willing to pass up Yankee dollars for Rays bucks.
“I would be open to whatever, and they know that,” Crawford said Wednesday. “It’s no secret. I just really hope something happens.”
To which Maddon said, “I can tell you honestly I love having him here.”
To which vice president of baseball Andrew Friedman said, “We are very pleased to hear CC’s comments. ... He has been a big part of our past success, and I expect he will be a big part of our future success as well.”
Of course, owner Stuart Sternberg has the final say, and if that say isn’t around $14 million, $15 million per year, Crawford might end up playing his home games at Yankee Stadium, where those who sit in the left field seats have been wooing Crawford for years by telling him how good he will look in pinstripes.
That’s nice, but Crawford likes wearing that little yellow starburst on his chest, and he prefers the Rays’ shade of blue.
“I think the organization is definitely headed in the right direction, and I’d like to be part of that,” Crawford said.
Why not? He was part of most of the losing.
In fact, back in 2007, you would never hear Crawford or any soon-to-be Rays free agent talking about staying. Like Aubrey Huff and Julio Lugo, CC would have been talking about getting out.
“How could you not?” Crawford asked. “You lose 100 games. I didn’t know what was going to happen, I just hoped that things changed soon, and it did. It couldn’t have happened at a better time.”
Ah yes, 2008: The year that changed everything in Tampa Bay.
“I don’t think it would ever go back to being as bad as it was,” Crawford said. “I think that’s impossible.”
But attendance this season hasn’t reflected the success of last season, and the Rays are owned by Sternberg, not Steinbrenner, which means every move will be cost effective and paying Crawford what he is worth might not be within the Rays’ reach.
Crawford would like the matter settled by next season. He doesn’t want the drama that comes with negotiating during the season, and he would like to be able to continue to play all-out with the security of a long-term deal as insurance against a long-term injury.
“I just want to be able to play, play baseball and not worry about nothing,” Crawford said. “I hope we can get something done. If not, I’ll just go into next season and do what I have to do, try to help the team win and go from there.”