Carl Crawford agreed to a seven-year, $142 million deal with the Boston Red Sox late last night. The signing gives Boston the premier offensive player on the free agent market and is a major blow to the rival New York Yankees, who were also anticipated to pursue Crawford.

The former Rays outfielder is one of baseball’s best young talents. In 2010, he hit a career-high 19 home runs to go along with a .307 batting average and 110 runs scored. He also stole 47 bases and won a Gold Glove.

He’s only 28-years-old despite having played nine professional seasons, and the Red Sox will have him manning the outfield in Fenway Park through his prime.

Boston has now acquired the best hitter available on the trade market, Adrian Gonzalez, and the best free agent hitter, Crawford, in a remarkable start to the offseason. But all accolades aside, what does this most recent move mean for the rest of Boston’s offseason and the remainder of the free agency period?

  1. The Yankees now have no choice but to sign Cliff Lee, regardless of what he demands. They will have to overpay to do it, but they can’t risk ignoring the moves the Red Sox have made or they may be in danger of missing the playoffs next season. That’s actually good news for the Red Sox, who can look forward to the day in a few years when the Yankees are paying over a combined $60 million to Lee, C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, who will all be pitching in their mid-to-late 30’s.
  2. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who were generally regarded as the favorites to sign Crawford, must now turn to the next best free agent hitter, Adrian Beltre. That’s bad news for the Red Sox because the Angels‘ first round draft pick (No. 14 overall) is protected, meaning Boston will only get the Angels second-round pick and a supplemental pick as compensation for losing the Type-A free agent.
  3. Crawford’s signing increases the odds that the Red Sox will pursue another Type-A free agent, specifically reliever Scott Downs. There was little chance GM Theo Epstein would surrender a first-round draft pick for a reliever, but with Crawford in the fold a Downs signing would only cost a second-round draft pick.
  4. Crawford’s signing also increases the odds that OF Jacoby Ellsbury is put back on the trade market. Terry Francona would be happy to keep Ellsbury, but it may not be necessary with Crawford, Mike Cameron, J.D. Drew and Ryan Kalish all expected to receive major playing time next season.
  5. This move rules out any chance of the Red Sox going after Carlos Beltran or Magglio Ordonez, with much more pressing team needs than adding a sixth outfielder.
  6. Crawford is the fifth lefty expected to be a regular in the Boston lineup, joining Adrian Gonzalez, Ellsbury, Drew and David Ortiz. That’s not a huge problem because all of those players, with the exceptions of Drew and Ortiz, can still hit left-handed pitching. But Epstein will definitely look to add another right-handed bat to make the team as balanced as possible. Maybe Russell Martin?
  7. The Red Sox still have $10-15 million left to spend (assuming that they don’t sign an extension with Gonzalez until the beginning of the season). That’s enough to add a couple of bullpen arms and fill out the bench. But if Boston wants to go after Downs and a player like Rafael Soriano or Brian Fuentes, then they will need to clear some salary. One option is to trade Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is due $10 million in each of the next two seasons. There is a large enough trade market out there to move him, and the Red Sox could fill his spot in the rotation with one of Tim Wakefield, Felix Doubront, Michael Bowden, Junichi Tazawa or a free agent signing.

Finally, here’s a quick look at the major changes the Red Sox have made so far this offseason.



3B Adrian Beltre, C Victor Martinez, three top prospects (Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes), first-round draft pick (No. 24)


1B Adrian Gonzalez, OF Carl Crawford, first-round draft pick (No. 19), two supplemental first-round draft picks, anticipated second-round draft pick for Beltre (top 50)


Not a bad trade-off, with a few more moves still expected. Stay tuned.


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