The Boston Red Sox have fired their second warning shot across the bow of the American League East by signing Carl Crawford to a seven-year deal valued at $142 million, according to multiple media outlets and first reported by the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham.

The ink likely still wet on the trade sending Adrian Gonzalez to Boston, Theo Epstein and the Red Sox ownership group have dug deep into their pockets and managed to deliver Crawford the largest single payday in Boston since the signing of Manny Ramirez.

When the deal is finalized, the Red Sox will have committed themselves to roughly $300 million within a week’s span, and Epstein will have staked his legacy to the performances of these two superstars.

Always reluctant to sign players to such lengthy and lucrative contracts, Epstein has earned a sometimes wise, sometimes miserly reputation across baseball. Given that reluctance, Epstein certainly is setting himself up for close scrutiny. Whether these deals prove sagacious will write much of Epstein’s story as the boy-wonder GM.

Also, when the deal is finalized, Boston will have acquired perhaps the fastest, finest defensive outfielder in the game today. The 29-year-old Crawford put up a 21.2 UZR/150 in 2010 en route to winning his first Gold Glove award.

Combine that defensive prowess with roughly 54 stolen bases per season and an 851 OPS last year, and one can understand why the four-time All Star and 2010 Silver Slugger could electrify both the Red Sox franchise and the Fenway Faithful in every facet of the game.

For breaking Red Sox news updates, follow Peter on Twitter at BoSoxUpdate.

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