How Carl Crawford became a Red Sox


How Carl Crawford became a Red Sox

By Sean McAdam

As the Red Sox officially introduced Carl Crawford at a press conference Saturday morning at Fenway Park, general manager Theo Epstein noted: "Signings like this don't happen in a vacuum." And indeed, while the news that Crawford had reached agreement on a seven-year, 142 million contract didn't break until late Wednesday night at the annual Winter Meetings in Orlando, it hardly was a last-minute whim.To the contrary, the deal was months in the making and executed over the last few weeks.Based on interviews with baseball sources familiar with the negotiations, here's a look back at, for now, the biggest contract given out by the current Red Sox ownership group:

The Red Sox' interest in Crawford began long before the 2010 season drew to a close, though it may also have coincided with the team's fall from contention.

The rash of injuries that hit the Red Sox outfield (Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron), coupled with the belief that Ryan Kalish perhaps needed more development time and the recognition that J.D. Drew's contract would expire after 2011 led the Sox to believe that they needed an impact outfielder.

Crawford's age (29), skill set (defense, speed, and growing extra-base power) made him the the perfect fit.

The team assigned special assistant Allard Baird to scout Crawford intently over the second-half of the season to get a better sense of his game, and also, his character and personality. The more Baird watched, the more interested the Sox became.

One benefit of the Sox' failure to make the postseason for the first time since 2006 was that the month of October allowed the Sox to more fully formulate a plan of attack on Crawford.

The Sox had heard that Crawford had an aversion to playing in Boston -- either because of the cold weather in the spring and fall, or the suffocating intensity of the media coverage and fan interest -- and were determined to present the city and the organization in the best possible light.

Theo Epstein and Terry Francona made plans to visit Crawford in his native Houston to make their case. As the two began their pitch, Crawford, at first reserved, began to show for more enthusiasm in becoming a member of the Red Sox.

Until then, the Sox had suspected that Crawford was leaning heavily toward signing with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Torii Hunter, a friend of Crawford, had publicly campaigned for his team to land Crawford, and for a while it seemed a fait accompli.

But as the Houston meeting continued, held with Crawford's agents -- Greg Genske and Brian Peters -- in attendance, the better the Red Sox felt about their chances.

Sensing that Crawford might be put off by the intensity of playing in Boston, they assured him that other players who shunned the limelight and preferred a more low-key approach -- citing Drew as an example -- could still thrive in Boston.

The Sox assured Crawford that, while they were simultaneously working on a trade for another player (Adrian Gonzalez), he was their top free-agent target of the offseason. They warned him in advance that they would soon be meeting with Jayson Werth, but assured him that Werth was more of a backup plan, partly intended to offer misdirection to some other teams.

No offer was made to Crawford in Houston. In fact, the two sides barely got into parameters. All along, however, the Sox had a general understanding of what it would take to get Crawford, and knew, too, when Grenske and Peters later set their asking price at 10 years, 200 million that no team -- the Red Sox included -- would go that high.

When Werth agreed to a landmark seven year, 126 million contract with the Washington Nationals Sunday, the Sox had yet to make a formal offer on Crawford, occupied as they were on finalizing the Gonzalez trade and, later, on contract extension talks for their newly-acquired first baseman.

The Sox braced for Crawford's representatives to bolster their asking price in the aftermath of Werth's deal. If Werth, two years older and not nearly as athletic as Crawford, could command seven years at 18 million per season, surely Crawford's demands would escalate, too. Instead, Genske and Peters stuck to their request for 10 years, 200 million.

Privately, the agents' dream contract notwithstanding, the Red Sox figured that Werth's deal would ultimately send Crawford's asking price to somewhere between 140-150 million.

Not until Monday, the first day of the winter meetings, did the Red Sox finally make an actual proposal. At seven years for 119 million -- an average of 17 million per -- it was purposely low -- lower even than the deal Werth had gotten 24 hours earlier -- giving the Red Sox some subsequent wiggle room.

At the time, the Sox were hopeful that they could close out a deal at 19 million per season over seven years for a total of 133 million. As it turned out, Crawford would cost them an additional outlay of almost 10 million.

Following some back and forth Tuesday and early Wednesday, Genske called Epstein Wednesday and notified them that the Angels had set an 11 p.m. deadline for negotiations and that it was time for teams to finalize their last, best offer.

Both the Red Sox and Angels were told that Crawford would need 142 million over seven years.

At around 9 p.m. Wednesday evening, Epstein phoned principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner in Liverpool, England and told them of Crawford's asking price.

(Previously, Epstein had had his staff prepare a detailed statistical presentation that explained to the owners why Crawford, far from a typical corner outfielder in that he had never before hit 20 homers or knocked in as more than 90 RBI, was nonetheless worth this kind of investment).

When Werner and Henry signaled their approval from overseas, the Red Sox were armed with an offer that Crawford would find acceptable.

At the same time as the Red Sox were getting ownership approval to hand out the biggest deal since Henry and Co. took control of the club in February 2002, Angels general manager Tony Reagins was getting similar approval from his owner, Arte Moreno.

The Angels, like the Red Sox, had come in with something of a lowball offer initially -- six years at 108 million. Moreno approved an additional guaranteed year and slightly more than 2 million per season. The Angels, then, were ready to meet Crawford's seven-year, 142 asking price.

While the respective teams got ownership approval, Genske and Peters approached Crawford. If both teams come back with what we've requested, they asked, which team will you choose? To the surprise of some, Crawford answered: Boston.

In a final phone call, concluding at 10:50, ten minutes before Genske and Peters were set to meet with the Angels, the Red Sox were told that Crawford had agreed to their terms and an agreement was in place.

In the Red Sox hotel suite at the World Disney World Dolphin Resort, the baseball operations staff and manager Terry Francona were assembled in the living room. From behind closed doors in his bedroom, Epstein could be heard exclaiming: "Awesome!"

When he emerged from the room, he told his staff the good news.

Minutes later, Crawford's agents went to deliver the bad news to Reagins, who was irate. When Reagins reminded the agents, "You told me 142 million would get it done!" the agents responded: "We said that's what it would take; we didn't say we'd guarantee a deal."

As Reagins fumed, the Red Sox celebrated. Never had giving out the biggest contract in the current ownership's history seemed like such a victory.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

WORLD SERIES: Kluber, Perez, Indians beat Cubs 6-0 in Game 1


WORLD SERIES: Kluber, Perez, Indians beat Cubs 6-0 in Game 1

CLEVELAND - Corey Kluber got the Cleveland Indians off to a striking start and Roberto Perez put away Chicago in the Cubs' first World Series game since 1945.

Kluber dominated into the seventh inning, Perez homered twice and the Indians beat the Cubs 6-0 in the opener Tuesday night. AL Championship Series MVP Andrew Miller escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the seventh and got out of trouble in the eighth, preserving a three-run lead.

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Dombrowski, Red Sox making adjustments in wake of recent departures


Dombrowski, Red Sox making adjustments in wake of recent departures

In recent days and weeks, the Red Sox have lost their general manager, their vice president of amateur and international scouting, an assistant director of amateur scouting, a member of their analytics department and their mental skills coach.

But Dave Dombrowski, the team's president of baseball operations, insists that the team is not in danger of "brain drain.''

"No, not at all,'' said president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in a conference call with reporters. "We've lost some good people, but it's also a situation where we have a lot of good people and I think when you have a good organization, if you're winning and you expose people to situations, (a certain amount of exodus) happens. I think the other part of it is that we're more than capable of filling some of those roles from an internal perspective. We've got some quality people and I think the thing that's great about it is, it allows people to grow.''

Dombrowski announced that, in the wake of the departure of Amiel Sawdaye, the former VP of amateur and international scouting who left Monday to become assistant GM of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Sox were promoting Eddie Romero, formerly the vice president of international scouting, to the position of senior vice president/ assistant GM.

Romero, the son of former Red Sox utility infielder Eddie Romero Sr. will help Dombrowski in personnel matters and player development, while Brian O'Halloran, who has the same title as Romero, will continue to handle administrative matters including salary arbitration and contactual negotiations.

After the departure of Mike Hazen, who left to become GM of the Diamondbacks last week, Dombrowski interviewed Sawdaye and Romero as Hazen's potential replacements before determining that neither had the necessary experience yet to become a major league GM.

Dombrowski said there would be additional internal promotions and adjustments to announce in the coming weeks. He added that senior advisors Frank Wren and Allard Baird, each former general managers, would see their responsibilities increase when it comes to conducting trade talks with other organizations.

Sawdaye's departure is one of several this off-season for the front office. Earlier this month, Steve Sanders, who had been the team's assistant director of amateur scouting, left to become director of amateur scouting for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Also, Tom Tippett, a longtime member of the team's statistical analysis staff, will leave soon too pursue other opportunities. The team recently informed mental skills coach Bob Tewksbury that his contact would not be renewed, according to the Boston Globe.

Dombrowski indicated that Laz Gutierrez would be promoted to take the place of Tewksbury.

In other news, Dombrowski revealed that the entire coaching staff -- hitting coach Chili Davis; assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez; first base coach Ruben Amaro Jr.; third base coach Brian Butterfield; bullpen coach Dana LeVangie; pitching coach Carl Willis; and bench coach Torey Lovullo -- had all agreed to return for 2017.

That, of course, is subject to change since Lovullo is believed to be a target of Hazen for Arizona's managerial vacancy.

Dombrowski said the Diamondbacks had yet to request permission to speak with Lovullo, though that may happen soon now that Hazen has hired Sawdaye to fill out his front office.

When Hazen was hired by the Diamondbacks, he was limited to hiring just one member of the Red Sox' Baseball Operations staff. But, Dombrowski added, that limit didn't apply to uniformed staff members such as Lovullo, who would be leaving for a promotion.