By Sean McAdam
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- For the second time in less than a week, theRed Sox rocked the baseball world with a mammoth acquisition, signingfree agent outfielder Carl Crawford to a seven-year, 142 million deal.
The Sox outbid the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim andothers to land Crawford, the premier position player on the market thiswinter.
The Boston Globe was the first to report the deal in place.
The contract is the biggest given out to a player by the Red Sox since JohnHenry and Co. purchased the team in 2002 and comes just days afterthe Sox landed first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in a five-player deal withthe San Diego Padres.
Once the Sox obtained Gonzalez, it seemed unlikely the club would pursue such a marquee free agent as Crawford.
General manager Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona visitedCrawford in his native Houston last week, a day before meeting withfellow free agent outfielder Jayson Werth in Chicago.
Last Sunday, the day before the winter meetings kicked off, Werthsigned a landmark seven-year, 126 million deal with the WashingtonNationals and most people in the game thought that contract wouldembolden Crawford to get 8 or perhaps even 10 years.
Instead, he signed for the same length, while topping Werth's contract by 16 million.
The 20.2 million average annual value (AAV) of the deal is thehighest ever for an outfielder -- topping, slightly, the eight-year,160 million deal signed by Manny Ramirez with the previous Red Soxownership group.
It's also the 10th-biggest contract in the history of the game,exceeded only by deals for Alex Rodriguez (twice), Derek Jeter, JoeMauer, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzski and MiguelCabrera.
Gonzalez is expected to eventually reach agreement on an extensionfor somewhere in the neighborhood of 147 million, bringing the Red Soxtotal investment in two players this winter to about 290 million.
Crawford, 29, is a lifetime .296 hitter with 409 stolen bases. He's ledthe American League in steals four times. He won the Gold Glove in 2010as well as the Silver Slugger award.