Saturday, November 28, 2009

What Would it Take to Get Carl Crawford to Brandish a Tomahawk?

For those of you who have actually looked over my profile, you know that Carl Crawford listed first on my Short List under "Favorite Athletes".

To expand on that positioning, Carl Crawford is my favorite baseball player/athlete/celebrity/everything.

Speed, defense, average, a little pop, and hustle.

What's not to love?

So, when I saw this article on the St. Pete Time's site, you can believe that a smile ran across my face.

Now, that piece says that the Braves and Mets have only expressed interest in the 2009 All Star Game MVP.

That doesn't mean that anything in imminent, nor does it mean that any names have been exchanged in trade negotiations.

I know that.

But, it is interesting to think about what it would take to acquire the left-handed outfielder.

Let's start by talking about why this implications this would have for Atlanta.

Pros: Speed, Hitting, Fielding, 'Swag'

Carl Crawford brings all of those things to that table.

The dude has epic speed (362 stolen bases in six-and-a-half years), which is something that the Braves have been lacking since Rafael Furcal's final season in '05.

The guy is also a perennial .300 hitter who is a lock for 15 homers (not exceptional, but the speed, average, and doubles and triples (36) make up for it) who can get to a lot of balls.

Put all of that together, and you have a complete package.

And add that package to Heyward and McLouth(possibly down the road), and you have the best outfield in the National League.

He may not fill the "right-handed, power-hitting bat" card, but he is a dynamic outfielder who has been great for his entire career.

(sorry about the bit of bias there)

Cons: Package(s), One Year?

We all know about the Floridian mantra (since it applies to both the Rays and Marlins).

Pay less, trade more.

That's why this rumor even has the bit of legs it possesses.

But it's also what makes this deal questionable.

The Rays will (likely) not accept any veterans with salaries exceeding about $6 MM.

We're talking the Julio Tehran's, Jordan Schafer's, and Craig Kimbrel's of the world (but not necessarily those guys).

And with only one year left on his contract, is he worth that type of talent?

That's up for debate...

Now, let's discuss a potential deal.

As we just established, the Rays will likely be seeking top-flight talent.

For only one year of Crawford, however, I think any deal could be leveraged into one blue-chip prospect, and three "above-average" prospects (remember, Mark Teixeira, with 1.5 years left, came over for five prospects).

So, this is, from the Braves' perspective, as far as I would go if trading for Crawford (and Crawford only) this offseason:

Braves Get: Carl Crawford, Ramon Ramirez
Rays Get: Julio Tehran, Kris Medlen, Jordan Schafer, Brandon Hicks

There's your primo, possible Neftali Feliz-type regret, good MLB-ready arm, MLB-ready replacement (if they do choose to deal BJ Upton as well), and some organizational depth for the Rays.

Add in the fact that this type of move would absolutely require the departure of Derek Lowe or Javier Vazquez (it was probably going to happen anyway, but still...) and you have some questions to ask yourself (all asked as if I were Frank Wren) of you want to pull the trigger:

Are we sure we can get this guy to stick around? (a must)
Could we wait until July and possibly give up a little bit less?
Can we compete next offseason if he were to become a free agent?
Will this guy's skill set age well?

My ten cents?


As much as a guy like Crawford would bring to the table, the risk-over-reward factor would make many fans (including myself) flash back to the summer of '07 when Mark T. came over.

With retain-ability and organizational depth both issues in any blockbuster like this, I would probably drop the gun and walk away.

Besides, the Braves have just as much of a shot at keeping him (in a trade) as they would acquiring him through free agency.

As hyped as I may have seemed at the beginning of this, thinking about all of that talent going to the Rays really took the wind out of my sails.

As I said...wait and try to get him in a year (by then, you may no longer need him for the offense if Cody Johnson, Jason Heyward, Jordan Schafer, and Freddie Freeman all show signs of panning out).

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