Contract CrowdSource: Carl Crawford

Today, I want to kick off an experiment of sorts. Over the last few off-seasons, I’ve noticed that the expectation of what I think a player will sign for is regularly not anywhere close to what he actually gets. Whether it was due to my misconceptions of what the market would value a player as, or just corrections inspired by the recession, we’ve seen guys sign for fractions of what they were expected to get, or not sign at all despite being pretty useful players.

So, rather than just go into this winter with my own observations of what the market may look like, I thought it would be a worthwhile effort to crowdsource the expected contracts for most of the major free agents who are looking to get paid this winter. We’re going to find out just how well the wisdom of crowds works in projecting the free agent market.

The first player we’ll throw out for discussion is the big fish of the winter, Carl Crawford. The Tampa Bay outfielder, who just turned 29, has established himself as one of the game’s best all-around players. Over the first nine years of his professional career, he’s averaged just under +4 WAR per season, and he’s been even better than that the last two years, posting a +5.5 win season last year and already reaching +5.6 wins so far in 2010. He’s in the prime of his career with a skillset that ages very well, and with a variety of abilities that are valued by every team, no matter their team-building philosophy.

Crawford is going to attract intense interest from multiple teams. There will be an inevitable bidding war for his services, with the Yankees and Angels most often rumored to be the teams ready to break the bank in an effort to lure Crawford to join their organizations. So, the question is, how much does he get, and for how long?

You can use the form below to submit your answers. Once we have a decent sample and the numbers seem to have stabilized around a length and figure, we’ll revisit the expectations. Assuming there’s enough interest, we’ll continue doing these until we get to free agency and find out just how much you guys actually know about projecting free agent contracts. It should be a fun experiment.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.