The Boston Red Sox are “serious” about Carl Crawford and are meeting both the outfielder and his representatives in Houston, according to Yahoo’s Tim Brown.

While most early speculation has centered around Boston inking free-agent outfielder Jayson Werth, Boston’s attention seems to be focused on the younger, more athletic speedster from the division rival Tampa Bay Rays.

The 29-year-old Crawford is a career .296 hitter who’s posted a .781 OPS and averaged over 50 stolen bases during his eight full seasons with Tampa.

Defensively, the Type-A free agent ranked first among all Major League outfielders with more than a 1000 innings in the field in UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating) in 2010. Only Brett Gardner came close when it comes to flashing the leather.

In this contract year, Crawford also attended his fourth All-Star Game and won Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards.

According the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman, Crawford could be seeking an eight-year deal worth more than $160 million. Were the Red Sox to sign Crawford to such a contract, it would represent the largest single financial commitment made under the new ownership group.

With JD Drew and Mike Cameron set to become free agents at the end of the 2011 season and Jacoby Ellsbury’s relationship with the front office a question mark, signing a dynamic outfielder in his prime seems of paramount importance to the Red Sox organization.

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