5 Places Carl Crawford Might Land Next
The Los Angeles Dodgers designated Carl Crawford for assignment yesterday, agreeing to pay the more than $30 million left on his original $144 million contract in exchange for him to not take up a spot on their 25 man roster. It’s the end of a really, really long fall for a guy who was once one of baseball’s most exciting young players.
When he signed with the Boston Red Sox in 2011, he was coming off a 7.7 WAR season with the Rays, one in which he posted a .310 average and 47 steals to go with 19 homers, 90 RBI and 110 runs scored. He finished 7th in the MVP race that year and was a bonafide star. When he left Tampa, his career WAR total was 36.8 through the first 9 years of his career. In the 6 seasons since then, he’s put up 5.3.
This season, before being cut by the Dodgers, his team since he was traded to LA before the 2013 season, Carl was batting just .185 with no homers and no steals and a -.8 WAR. Where he once was a star, he is now a below replacement level player.
What accounts for such a precipitous decline from a guy who’s still just 34 years old, a 4 time league leader in triples and 4 time league leader in steals? Well, this quote from an April profile in the LA Times says a lot:
“I played real aggressively on turf for nine years,” he said. “I’m lucky I’m still walking the way I’m walking now. I’m still walking, at least.”
Crawford seems to think the turf in Tropicana Field in Tampa took a lot off of his knees. It’s a theory that makes a lot of sense and I would say is very likely true. That sucks. Crawford was an amazing player to watch and it has been really sad watching him struggle through injuries and age these last few seasons. Since leaving Tampa, Carl has almost felt like a fish out of water, struggling to get by in what is clearly not his element.
That’s why I thought Tampa might be a likely destination for him now that he’s out of Los Angeles. With the Dodgers paying his salary, Crawford is a low risk, high upside veteran for a team in need of an offensive spark. Tampa, which is looking to contend in an AL East against much better funded competition, is always looking for such an edge. If Crawford doesn’t want to play on the turf again though, that pretty much puts an end to that.
So, if not Tampa, and not Boston again or LA, where is the next stage of Carl Crawford‘s career going to take him?
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