Does Crawford’s skillset actually age well? Much of his game depends upon his footspeed, and not just in the areas you’d expect (baserunning and defense). His overall offensive performance could decline sharply if he slows down.
Footspeed is one of the things which decline the soonest. Crawford does have some power, so that helps, but it’s still below average for a starting left fielder; and some of that power is provided by his legs, turning singles into doubles and doubles into triples. His walk rate has always been below average, and despite some improvement, it is still not good.
His BABIP and his ISO could suffer if he follows the typical aging pattern for a speed-driven player. Maybe he will have the longevity of a Derek Jeter or an Ichiro, but maybe not. I think the Chone Figgins contract will make teams wary about handing out big deals to speedy players in that age range, too.
All of this is not to say I think Crawford is, or will be, a bad player soon. I expect him to continue to be very good for at least two or three more years. But I think there is a greater risk factor because of his profile, and I also think teams will be hesitant to give out a massive 7-10 year deal. Working off of what Figgins got, I voted four years at $15M per season. That may be too pessimistic, but I’m going with it.
I wouldn’t be shocked if Jayson Werth made more money in the offseason, despite being older.
Does Crawford really have a skillset that ages well? He doesn’t hit for too much power and does not get on base at a high clip, two things I always thought were considered skills that age well.
Not saying he will fall off a cliff, but can teams rely on him still having his wheels when he is 35?
I went for 12 million a year and 4 years, but that’s not really based on that much, and I think I probably should have gone for closer to 15/5 after thinking about it a bit more, but I’m not sure. He’s a very good player, and I would be delighted to see him in Seattle next year, as unlikely as it is.
I know most people believe this to be true, but historic evidence shows this not to be the case. Good athletes like Crawford maintain their performances much later in their careers than slow plodders who gain weight and lose bat speed in their early-to-mid 30s. Think of guys like Kenny Lofton – this skillset actually ages exceptionally well. Speed doesn’t decline nearly as early as people think.
Speed tends to age better than other skill sets. It’s counter-intuitive, I know, but as a player ages, he gets “old-player” skills to offset whatever foot speed he loses. If he didn’t have that speed to begin with, he becomes too slow anyway.
Anecdotal evidence: Ichiro, Ricky Henderson, Johnny Damon. Check out Crawford’s similarity scores through age 27 (from B-R): Roberto Clemente tops the list. He was better in his 30s.
Got any links on that? What I’ve heard is that walk rate ages the best, then power, contact, defense, and speed. I can see the argument that Crawford’s skills should be rated from best to worst in the exact opposite order.
Lofton actually illustrates my point well. By age 32, much of his value was being sustained by his good walk rate and solid-average power, as his fielding and speed declined. (His walk rate was always better than Crawford’s.) His age 32 season was the last year he produced over 4 WAR.
This isn’t precisely what you’re looking for, but here we see that BB rate peaks the latest at 32.30, then OBP, then HR rate. The skill which peaks the soonest? Doubles plus triples rate, e.g. a measure of footspeed, at age 28.26.
Suggestion: you should also indicate if the players is a Boras client.
Comment by Phillies Red — August 30, 2010 @ 5:55 pm
I don’t think my statement was more disingenuous than your own; in the time period we’re discussing, he also posted three seasons below 2 WAR, including one at 0.3 WAR, to go with the three good ones you mentioned. He averaged 2.4 WAR per season, which is decent player, yes–just good enough to pencil in as a starter–but I’d contest the notion that he was still “very good” during that stretch of his career. Older players don’t have a uniform decline, so pointing out a few peaks is, I think, the more disingenuous way to approach evaluating Lofton’s twilight years.
CMC – I don’t think the burden of proof is on anyone, tbh. I would also genuinely be interested in such an article. I fully admit that my thoughts on this are hearsay and that I cannot provide any articles that prove that walkrate and power age the best, but I do believe I read this more than once in articles here or on BP.
I think Crawford will out-earn Matt Holliday. I also admit I’m one of the few people who believe this.
Crawford and Werth will benefit from the dearth of elite OFs in future FA markets. There isn’t one elite FA OFer in next year’s class. The class after that is headed by Sizemore in the OF, and his career is at a bit of a crossroads – he might not look elite by the time he reaches FA in two years.
My point is this: teams could pass on Bay and Holliday last winter with the knowledge that they’d have a great opportunity to ante up for equal-or-better talent in the following winter with Crawford and Werth. Teams won’t have that luxury this offseason. It’s either buy Crawford or Werth, or swallow hard and accept that you won’t find an elite FA outfield solution for years.
I think that Crawford will get offered seven years from an elite, preferred destination team (Yanks/Dodgers/Red Sox/Angels), and that if an unheralded team outside of that foursome wanted to sign him it would require eight years, with the total compensation passing $120M.
Comment by Jacob Jackson — August 30, 2010 @ 5:59 pm
What were the problems with Bradbury’s studies, at least in short summary?
I have to believe he will get at least 6/96, and probably more – I could see the likes of Anaheim, Yankees, Detroit (70M coming of the books), maybe even the Giants throwing big money at this guy. 29 year old FA’s in the 4-5 WAR range seem like they are pretty damn rare, and as Dave mentioned, he’ll still be a useful player at the end of that range.
Side note / curious – I know we don’t have much data on Crawford in CF recently, but I wonder (assuming he’s a +15 LF) whether he would be at least an average and maybe a +5 CF, and enhance his value further. May be completely off base, but curious what people thing.
Worse economic climate. Hunter signed his big multi-year contract before the economy completely exploded (or at least before MLB teams saw the economic effects on their bottom lines the following season).
Personally I think Crawford and Werth should not be compared. It’s basically like a Holliday to Bay disparity, maybe more. Crawford is better, younger, and plays in the hardest division in a much tougher league.
As a Tigers fan, I hope they leave the back of the rotation to the guys they have coming back plus Oliver/Furbush and just go after Crawford/VMart/Beltre type guys that will really make a difference at positions of need.
It’d be nice to get Crawford for 5/100, but in reality it will probably be more years at a little less per, which as a GM I wouldn’t like.
Depends on who signs him. I think he’ll go to New York for 4-6 years for 16-18m a season. He will not stay in Tampa. The turf is shredding his knee and I think he will have injury problems wherever he goes.
I said 6/96 and I will laugh at the team that gives it to him. Personally I’m skeptical of Crawford because his value is so heavily reliant on his incredible UZR results, the guy does not hit like a first division corner outfielder (contract year aside).
AT THIS POINT, Brett Gardner has played well enough that bringing in a FA OF would say more about the Yankees’ opinion of Curtis Granderson than him. In addition, I don’t think the team wants to tie up another position with a long-term deal. I’m far less certain of the Yankees signing a FA OF than I was going into the year.
If the Yankees are off the list, the Red Sox and Tigers look like solid destinations for Crawford. Most teams would probably love to give him only 4 years @ 12-15 AAV, but I think competition for his “talents” will create a floor of a 5th year. I can’t see any team giving him 6 years. The change in the sport’s economy will prevent him from getting the same AAV that Torii Hunter got a few years ago.
If you’ll allow me to group Carl Crawford in the centerfield mold, here’s what Silver has to say:
“Once the speed goes–and speed evaporates more quickly than any other baseball skill–those guys become useless very quickly: they won’t have the range they once did, can’t do as much damage on the basepaths, and will see their batting averages drop as they can’t leg out as many base hits. Center field, like shortstop, is a position that is often home to the best player on the field, and is also often home to the worst one.”
Comment by Baron Samedi — August 30, 2010 @ 7:02 pm
6/16 seems like what he will get, i dunno if that’s a good idea though. if he did sign for that this off-season i suppose it would be looked at as a reasonable deal. something like 7/18 and we start entering the realm of the silly.
I don’t think teams will be willing to spend that kind of money. 5 @14per year. He’s a LF after all.
Comment by brentinKorea — August 30, 2010 @ 8:30 pm
Its not as if guys that start missing large chunks of time due to recurring injuries age poorly or something. Beltran has had major issues with his legs. There is no real guarantee that he’s suddenly going to bounce back to the elite CF that he once was.
Which is a reason that Werth might well get a comparable deal despite being older. Werth can handle all 3 OF positions credibly…not great but credibly. There’s alot of value in that type of versatility.
when i think of of a versatile defender, i dont think of a guy who can play a plus corner and non disastrous CF, there are probably one of those guys on most teams. i think of guys who can play a middle IF position along with an OF spot or even a 1b/3b.
I agree completely, Kevin. Gardner’s too good to be a bench player. I could theoretically see the Yankees putting Gardner in CF and trading Granderson, since they’re usually pretty good on giving up on mistakes as soon as they can. However, since the Yankees are already going to be spending money on Cliff Lee this offseason and have no pressing need for Crawford’s skills, I don’t see them getting involved.
Ichiro received 5 years/$90 million dollars before the 2008 season as a 34-year old. Though he is supposedly worth more to the Mariners than any other team, I think this is the most comparable contract to the situation at hand given their similar skill sets. Also, due to the fact that Crawford is just 29, and the fact that his skill set is becoming more highly valued due to the perception that power hitting is becoming less important, I would not be surprised by 7 years, $18 mil per year. Also, there seems to be a premium for signing the prize of the free agent market.
Although the FA market has declined for 2nd tier players and more or less disappeared for 3rd tier players, it has not really taken that much of a hit for elite FA. Crawford is in this category and I expect him to get something in the neighborhood of Alfonso Soriano money.
That contract leaves him a peg below Mauer and Teixeira, so it’s not like there isn’t precedent for this kind of spending even in the revised FA landscape. Considering that several teams with very deep pockets are going to be interested, it’s probably safe to assume on the high side for this contract.
I say 7years at 15 million per, in the 100-105MM range.
The economy hasn’t really affected the other elite (or perceived elite) free agents on the market. Sabathia, Holliday, and Teixeira still got megadeals. Lackey and Burnett still got a lot of money for their borderline elite skillsets (at the time of signing, of course).
Saying that a big name free agent is going to sign for X and the team that pays it is going to regret it is a bit of a cheap thrill. For the biggest free agent contracts a good deal is when the player provides slightly more value then the value of the contract. When big name players decline rapidly they are wildly overpaid. A big contract can only be proved a smart gamble several years from now, but it can look stupid in the first year of the contract (or before it kicks in- good luck with Ryan Howard Phils fans).
I like the crowdsourcing exercise happening here, but I think some of the people predicting Crawford is likely to be at least somewhat overpaid aren’t going too far out on a limb. Most players that get big dollar 5 or 6 year deals are at least somewhat overpaid.
I say LAAA sign him for 5/90 and bet it works out pretty well for them. I buy the argument that athletic players can evolve in terms of their skills and retain most of their value into their mid 30s.
I predicted 6 years at 126 million, and I’m probably off a year and a few extra million that he’ll somehow make. If he’s smart he could sign 7 or 8 year contract for the extra seasons making about 18-19 mill a year.
At age 29, yes, he’s entering his prime and might actually become a legitimate superstar. But he hasn’t scored 100 runs since 2005, has never hit more than 15 homeruns(this season he’ll surpass that), and he’s a leftfielder who relies on his speed. Throw in one season one down season where he was hurt often(2008), and is he a guy that would still be a freakish talent at age 33 or 34? He never takes walks, strikes out too much, and I’m guessing someone will pay far too much for him. Probably the Yankees, Red Sox or even the Astros since they finally gutted their team, and he’s from there.
I would be scared as a GM to sign him to a long-term contract. His real value is of course in his defense, but there is good evidence that defensive skill peaks earlier than hitting skill and declines quickly. His hitting numbers look a little better this year because he is in a contract push, but without the elite defense his numbers are not worthy of a premium corner outfielder.
The size of the contract will come down to whether to the Yankees are serious bidders and want him. They will go more years than any other team when they are serious, which is often the clincher.
Comment by Phantom Stranger — August 31, 2010 @ 2:31 am
I’d put my money on Crawford being a plus center fielder.
Bigger picture, I agree that CC doesn’t make a lot of sense for them, and I don’t see them going after him either. As someone above mentioned, Werth probably makes more sense. But really, you shouldn’t factor in $$ to value when you’re talking about the Yankees because it honestly doesn’t have a large impact on their decision making. Their payroll, even as it is now, is still something like $200 million less than their revenue. If they decide they want Crawford, they’ll go get him.
I’m not going to pretend to know what he’ll get, but I assume his agent will be asking for something similar to Matt Holliday’s 7/120 deal. He’s the same age Holliday was when he hit the market and plays the same position (but better). He might even get it, assuming the Yankees, Sox, and Angels get involved.
According to Cots, these are the potential FA in 2012 (the following year):
Bobby Abreu LAA *
Jose Bautista TOR
Carlos Beltran NYM
Milton Bradley SEA
Mike Cameron BOS
Ronny Cedeno PIT
Ryan Church PIT
Jack Cust OAK
Matt Diaz ATL
J.D. Drew BOS
Jeff Francouer NYM
Jonny Gomes CIN
Gabe Gross OAK
Carlos Guillen DET
Corey Hart MIL
Jeremy Hermida BOS
Raul Ibanez PHI
Conor Jackson ARZ
Ryan Ludwick STL
Gary Matthews Jr. NYM
Nate McLouth ATL *
Juan Pierre CWS
Juan Rivera LAA
Cody Ross FLA
Grady Sizemore CLE *
Nick Swisher NYY *
Josh Willingham WAS
This list could have a huge impact on the $$ that Crawford receives. Besides Sizemore (and he’s a huge risk), there aren’t any names that can match Crawford. If there were 2 or 3 impact players in 2012 then Crawford’s value comes down. So, I’d say this list bodes well for CC’s agent.
You are correct that this list could effect the amount of money he gets, but there aren’t many worth while players on it. Swisher isn’t going anywhere and Hart is going to ask for to much money than he’s worth and possibly get stuck in MIL. Ludwick is up in the air I don’t think he will stay with the Padres. As for Gomes I assume he will stay with the Reds. Bautista has to go which will effect Crawford’s salary, but for the most part he’s on the top of the list in my opinion.
I went 6/108 (18/yr). I think this does undervalue him a bit, but I’m not sure he’s going to get Holiday money with an 100 OPS points less. While he’s certainly an extremely productive player, I think his comparative lack of power would keep GMs from wanting to build a lineup around him — as most would have to do at that price.
I’m more curious about possible destinations. Yankees don’t have a spot for him unless they move somebody. Angels could play him in CF for a year and then slide him to LF in 2012. Red Sox have room, as do the Nats, especially if they don’t spend the money to bring Dunn back.
I think my sleeper would be the Giants. They could trade Sanchez or DeRosa to free up some money. Or they could slide Big Panda over to 1B assuming Huff makes himself too expensive. They could easily make room in any event. The big park plays to his strengths. He doesn’t have to go too far north — I can’t imagine the climate of New York & Boston are terribly attractive for a Houston native.
The difference is that Werth regularly plays a more difficult position (RF vs. LF) and he’s got recent experience (including this year) handling CF for a period of time. Teams will look at that over Crawford’s potential (but no recent experience anywhere other than LF).
let’s not exaggerate here, his strikeout rate is only 15% for his career. He’s not an undisciplined hacker — 50 BB and 90 K’s in a full season is not that troublesome.
again, we’re dealing with one of the most physically gifted athletes in MLB. Even if he loses some raw speed, players like him can make adjustments. I would not be surprised if Crawford added more BB’s and HR’s as he ages a bit…
Jayson Werth’s injury history, in addition to age, are going to make all the difference come FA this winter. Far more long-term deals become disasters because the player suddenly gets hurt as soon as he signs.