The Boston Red Sox finished in third place in the American League East this past season. As their offseason moves suggest, they weren’t too happy about that. First, they trade for Adrian Gonzalez, one of the best power hitters in baseball, and, as of Wednesday, December 8th at 8:41 Pacific Time, then they signed one of the fastest players in baseball, Carl Crawford to a seven-year, $142 million deal. As a result, I’m on cloud nine and thousands of Red Sox fans back in Boston are beside themselves in a euphoric state.

Seven years and $142 million, more than $20 million annually for the 29-year-old Crawford. I thought he was going to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim or the New York Yankees. I knew Boston was in the running, but had no idea they were even discussing anything with him. I refresh religiously and check Twitter countless times and I didn’t even know the team had any conversations with his agent or met with him. Since the news broke some have written on the social networking site that they expected Boston to land him, but to many others and me, this news is surprising.

Crawford is now the highest-paid outfielder in baseball. He was given the ninth-biggest contract in the history of the sport. Whether he is currently worth the contract he received is irrelevant. This is Carl Crawford, who is a career .296 hitter and has averaged 185 hits and 51 stolen bases over eight seasons. He batted .309 with 19 homers, 90 RBI and 100 runs this past season with the Tampa Bay Rays.

He is the quintessential five-tool player. And pairing him with a healthy Jacoby Ellsbury atop the Red Sox order will be terrifying for opposing pitching.

“I don’t know another player who looks so much like myself. It’s crazy sometimes,” Crawford said of Ellsbury before the season. “I think he’s almost exactly like me. When I see him, I see myself.”

From 2008 to 2009, Ellsbury hit .290 and stole 120 bases. If he can return to his 2009 form in particular, when he swiped 70 bags, his speed combined with Crawford’s will be difficult to quell. They can indeed be mirror images of each other, which is a very intriguing thought.

Barring an unexpected trade or signing, Boston’s lineup will consist of this duo, former MVP Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, J.D. Drew, Marco Scutaro and Jared Saltalamacchia. It’s safe to say their offense will be one of baseball’s most potent.

Crawford’s enormous deal combined with the deal Boston will probably give Gonzalez in the coming months makes them the new evil empire. I don’t approve of all the money in baseball, but the game is becoming more and more of business. Sadly, it’s something that has to be accepted.

The Red Sox knew they could afford Crawford so they gave him a deal they thought no team would match. This was the case with the Washington Nationals and Jayson Werth. Crawford’s contract is ridiculous, as is Werth’s, but overspending is the norm.

There is little doubt that Werth’s deal greatly influenced the Red Sox signing Crawford. The team had interest in Werth, so when he signed elsewhere for $126 million, Crawford’s price skyrocketed and they quickly turned to him as their top priority. But they put him atop their list in a quiet manner. A couple of days ago general manager Theo Epstein said Boston was looking to sign or acquire a right-handed bat who could play the corner outfield positions. He even hinted that the team might stick with what they have and focus solely on obtaining bullpen help.

Their move for Crawford caught most by surprise because there wasn’t even a hint of talks between the two parties leaked through sources to the press.

Gonzalez wasn’t enough of a splash. In wooing the speedster, Epstein has bolstered his team exponentially, and his offseason dealings are similar to New York’s successful 2008 winter of CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. The Yankees spent $341 million on their duo. Boston, with Gonzalez reportedly close to agreeing to an eight-year, $164 million deal, has spent $296 million for theirs, upgrading an offense that was injury-riddled but still the American League’s second-best this past season.

Crawford’s signing couldn’t have come at a better time. The Yankees are in a three-team race for the services of 32-year-old left-handed starting pitcher Cliff Lee, the best arm on the free-agent market, with his former team, the Texas Rangers and the aforementioned Nationals. For New York, Crawford was second on their list behind Lee. Given this, Boston knew they wouldn’t break off talks with Lee to solely focus on acquiring offense they don’t necessarily need.

The Red Sox didn’t want to wait for Lee’s decision. They didn’t want him to sign with Texas or Washington and get into a bidding war for Crawford. Therefore, they signed him without even giving the Yankees an opportunity to make an offer. It was a brilliant tactical move. Now, unless Lee suddenly takes the Rangers six-year offer or goes to the Nationals, it is widely assumed New York will increase their six-year, $140 million proposal in an effort to blow him away and counter Boston’s move. It’s always a game of chess between these two rivals.

If New York signs Lee, that’s fine by me. Sure, he would greatly improve a shaky Yankee rotation, but Boston now exemplifies a team built to win a championship. Their offense will be deadly. Their defense will solid, with speed at all three outfield positions and defensive specialists throughout the infield. And their starting rotation is filled with talented youth and proven veterans. No American League team will be as feared as the Red Sox.

Bringing Crawford aboard supports this bold statement. He is a hitting machine, will steal a tremendous amount of bases and should crush his fair share of homers in compact Fenway Park. The investment is an astronomical one on Boston’s part, but it puts them in control of the American League East. With the offense their $142 million man will add to an already dangerous lineup, the sky is the limit for the aggressive Red Sox.

Read more MLB news on