Yesterday, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that the Los Angeles Dodgers are "listening" to offers for any of their three outfielders not named Yasiel Puig. Because of both injuries and potential, Matt Kemp seems like the most likely to stay in Chavez Ravine. Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford, on the other hand, could find themselves in new uniforms next season.
Who is he?
Crawford is a 32 year old outfielder who was one of the hottest commodities on the free agent market three years ago. He hit .296/.337/.444 with 104 home runs and 409 stolen bases in roughly 8 1/2 seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays leading up to free agency. He signed a seven year, $142 million contract with the Boston Red Sox prior to the 2011 season. After putting up his worst OPS since his rookie season in 2011, Crawford was shipped over to Los Angeles in the mega deal that cleared over $100 million off Boston's books. Crawford returned from Tommy John surgery to hit .283/.329/.407 this season with 15 stolen bases and 62 runs scored.
Why should we care?
Crawford would represent a huge upgrade to the Tigers' current platoon in left field. Andy Dirks, Matt Tuiasosopo, and anyone else that spent any time in left field combined to hit .245/.324/.366 with a .308 wOBA and 90 wRC+ last season. The 10.0% walk rate was nice, but the 18.0% strikeout rate is well above Crawford's career mark of 14.7%. Crawford is also a huge threat on the basepaths, with 447 career stolen bases in 12 big league seasons.
His overall numbers in 2013 weren't particularly impressive, but he showed how much he can impact a game by hitting .310/.356/.619 with four home runs in the 2013 playoffs. He is not a .975 OPS hitter, but I think we will see him improve upon his .736 OPS from the 2013 regular season.
Why should we stay away?
A lot of people are still struggling to see why Theo Epstein saw fit to give Crawford so much money back in 2010. He is due a whopping $82.5 million over the next four seasons and will be 36 when his contract expires. Given how much his effectiveness relies upon speed -- a lot of value from his Rays days was drawn from his baserunning abilities -- he is not likely to age well. It's hard to judge him based on the past couple years because of the Tommy John surgery, but I don't see that limiting him going forward. Unless he finds a fountain of youth, however, I would stay far, far away from adding Crawford to any other team's payroll.
Will he end up in Detroit?
A deal between these two World Series contenders would be shocking, but what if Crawford were part of a bigger trade? If anyone were to overpay for a year of Max Scherzer, the Dodgers would be a likely candidate. A Scherzer for Crawford and prospect(s) trade is extremely unlikely, but interesting to think about. Ultimately, I don't think the Tigers want any part of Crawford's contract. They showed no signs of interest when Crawford was a free agent three years ago and likely will not this offseason either.
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