Red Sox sign Crawford to seven-year deal

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Red Sox sign Crawford to seven-year deal

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

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.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Red Sox exercise 2018 option on John Farrell's contract

Red Sox exercise 2018 option on John Farrell's contract

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- When Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski almost casually mentioned in October that John Farrell would return for the 2017 season, he was, predictably asked about the option that the club held on the manager for 2018.

Dombrowski noted that he would speak to ownership about that matter over the off-season. Apparently, it didn't take long.

The Red Sox announced Monday that the team had, indeed, exercised the option on Farrell, putting him on a guaranteed deal through the next two seasons.

"John's done a real fine job for us,'' said Dombrowski. "We had a very good year last year. I thought he did a good job handling the club. We're in a position where we have a good working relationship. He has the respect of our players; our players played hard for him, so we're very happy to have done that.

"It puts stability to our staff going into spring training.''

Dombrowski said the issue would have been addressed sooner, but the team had to deal with the departures of former GM Mike Hazen, former bench coach Torey Lovullo and other front office members.

"There were just so many issues that happened after (the end of the season),'' he noted. "There was no rush. This didn't have to be exercised until 10 days after (the competition of the 2017 season)... (But) John has a solid presence to himself, leadership capabilities, yet I also find him very open-minded when we have conversations. I think he's done a very fine job.''

Farrell became a focal point for criticism from the team's fan base and some in the media when the Red Sox struggled to separate themselves from the rest of the American League East in the first half of the season.

After winning a World Series in his first season at the Sox' helm in 2013, Farrell managed the Sox to a last-place finish in 2014, and the team was mired in the East basement in mid-August of 2015 when it was revealed that Farrell was battling lymphoma.

He took a leave of absence for the final seven weeks of the season and when the team's record improved under Lovullo, acting as interim manager, the pressure on Farrell was turned up for 2016, with Lovullo, Farrell's long-time friend, seen as the heir apparent should the team under-perform.

That pressure remained hot until the final month when a hot streak vaulted the Sox into first place and carried them into the post-season, where the team was swept out of the Division Series by Cleveland.

"I'm thrilled that (the option) has been exercised, obviously,'' said Farrell. "I love the city, the organization, the players that we have. This is an exciting young team - the young core group of players that we talk about is developing year after year.

"(This was the) first full year that Dave and I had a chance to work together and I appreciate his confidence...We addressed and faced a lot of challenges over the course of the season and we came out of it stronger and in a better place.''

Farrell maintained that "the status of my contract never changed (how I managed) day-in, day-out. And it won't going forward. My focus is what we can do (on a given) night to win a game and put our players in the best position to succeed. And that won't change.''

In four years, Farrell owns a 339-309 record (.523 winning percentage). He joined Joe Morgan as the only Red Sox managers to guide the team to multiple division titles.

 

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- As the annual winter meetings get underway today, the market for arguably the best free-agent hitter may be -- against all logic -- lessening.

Edwin Encarnacion, who has averaged 39 homers a year over the last five seasons, should be a player in demand.

But in quick succession, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, two teams thought to be in the market for Encarnacion, opted to go with older hitters who required shorter deals -- Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.

Further, the Toronto Blue Jays' signing of Steve Pearce to a two-year deal Monday, coupled with their earlier acquisition of Kendrys Morales, closes the door on a potential return to Toronto for Encarnacion.

Seemingly, all of that would position the Red Sox, in search of a DH to replace the retired David Ortiz, to swoop in and land Encarnacion for far less than they could have imagined only weeks ago.

And yet, it appears as though things would have to change considerably for the Red Sox to reach agreement with Encarnacion.

While the first baseman-DH is known to be Ortiz's first choice as his replacement, for now, the economics don't work for the Sox -- even as Enacarnacion's leverage drops.

Encarnacion is expecting a deal of at least four years, with an average annual value around $20 million.

The Red Sox, industry sources indicate, are very much mindful of the luxury tax threshold. The Sox have, however modestly, gone over the threshold in each of the last two seasons, and even with a bump due to last week's new CBA, the Sox are dangerously close to the 2018 limit of $195 million.

Should the Sox go over for a third straight year, their tax would similarly ratchet up.

That, and the fact that Encarnacion would cost the Sox their first-round pick next June -- for this offseason, compensation for players given a qualifying offer comes under the old CBA rules -- represents two huge disincentives.

It's far more likely that the Sox will seek a cheaper option at DH from among a group that includes Pedro Alvarez and Mike Napoli. Neither is in Encarnacion's class, but then again, neither would cost a draft pick in return, or the long-term investment that Encarnacion is said to be seeking.