Contract Crowdsource Results: Carl Crawford

2,000+ votes later, I’d say you guys are somewhat interested in this contract crowdsourcing idea, which is great. This will be a regular feature on FanGraphs leading up to free agency. We’ll try and do as many of the upcoming free agents as we can.

Let’s talk about the results of the Crawford survey. Just a few numbers to start off:

Average length: 5.5 years
Average salary: $16.4 million

Median length: 5 years
Median salary: $17 million

Standard deviation, years: 0.93 years
Standard deviation, salary: $2.91 million

Agreement was high among the group, especially in length. 78 percent of all submissions projected either a five or six year contract for Crawford, while 49 percent projected an annual salary of 14 to 17 million per season. It didn’t take long at all – about 25 ballots – before the data stabilized right around 5.5 years and $16.4 million, and it stayed there no matter how many additional ballots poured in.

So, I think we can say with some confidence that the crowd expects that he’ll get something around 5/80 or 6/100. This is why I’m glad we’re doing this exercise, because I figured the number would be a bit higher – I had him pegged at something like 7 years and $120 million.

Matt Holliday, a comparable player in value, got 7 years and $126 million with no bidding war to speak of last winter. Certainly, he benefited from the market’s premium given to power hitters, which Crawford will not get, but I’d expect that multiple teams will be bidding Crawford’s services up, which could drive the price beyond what the group consensus is. If I had to bet, I’d take the over on Crawford’s deal compared to the crowd’s average, but again, I’ve generally been lousy at estimating what players will sign for, and it’s likely that the crowd will be more accurate at projecting these deals than I will be.

Given these expected prices, though, I do wonder if Tampa Bay should make a serious run at keeping him. At least in the short term, $16 million a year for Crawford’s services is a bargain, and retaining him would keep their window of contention open longer. If they could get him to take a shorter deal, reducing the long term risk for the franchise, they might just be able to keep their franchise left fielder.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


47 Responses to “Contract Crowdsource Results: Carl Crawford”

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  1. Kevin S. says:

    Crawford doesn’t have Scott Boras getting the Mystery Team involved in the bidding, though.

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    • designated quitter says:

      The “mystery team” is almost always the Yankees. If the Yankees say ‘we’re not interested,’ Boras has no hand to play. For the Yankees to sign Crawford, they probably have to move Gardner or Granderson.

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    • Jason B says:

      No, I think the “mystery team” is usually a pure invention by Boras to feign a higher degree of interest in his player.

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  2. Jonah Keri says:

    Not happening with the Rays. Sternberg has been steadfast in insisting payroll drop to $50M and change in 2011, regardless of what happens this season. One can debate the logic of such a stance, but there we are.

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  3. mowill says:

    Bet he signs for 6 and 100 with a 2 million buyout of an 18 million option with the Detroit Tigers. And being the Tigers I’m sure the option will vest automatically with 500 some plate appearances. In the end I see him getting paid 118 million over seven seasons by the Detroit Tigers. By year 3 it will be an albatross contract and the Twins will be laughing themselves all the way to a half dozen more division titles.

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    • Carl Pohlad says:

      As a Tiger fan I wish my owner had pocked all the money my team made instead of investing it the team. It must have been fun winning all those playoff series the last few years with your “scrappy team of ballplayers” while Pohlad had grapes fed to him by his servants.

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      • TFINY says:

        And then invested over $65M into the stadium, and increased revenue over 40%. It’s tough to be a Twin’s fan, now, huh?

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  4. maqman says:

    The Angels or Bosox should be the high bidders, they need him more than the Yankees. However the Yankee fans do expect expensive presents before a new season.

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    • Cliff Lee says:

      Don’t worry Yankee fans!!

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    • The Red Sox need him less than Anaheim. Assuming Crawford is going to stay in left field, his defense would play much better just about anywhere but Fenway park. Crawford is a great player, but a good portion of his value comes from his range in left field. Paying Crawford $16M a year to field balls off the monster is a bit of a waste, don’t you think? It makes more sense for Boston (to me at least) to put a more offensively focused player in left.

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  5. MikeS says:

    The Rays strike me as a smart, efficient organization that scouts and drafts VERY well. I think how hard they go after him depends on what they feel about Upton’s develoment or whatever minor leaguer they have to replace him.

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    • I think it’s still too early to say that the Rays are a smart, efficient organization that scouts and drafts very well. It’s easy to find good players in the draft when you have one of the top 5 picks in the draft for a dozen years or so. It is about quadruple the odds of finding a good player in the last third of the first round, about double that from picks 6-20, by my calculations.

      Think they wouldn’t like to have a redo about the Posey vs. Beckham decision now? And look at their first round picks – http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/?query_type=franch_round&team_ID=TBD&draft_round=1&draft_type=junreg& – would you really call that very good drafting? They made a lot of mistakes early on as well.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        How many times do we have to go over this tripe? The Rays only have three or four players on their roster who came from their own high first-round picks. The rest were acquisitions and later round picks.

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      • If they were good instead of lucky, they would have been doing it with their first round picks, would they not?

        About acquisitions, I didn’t intend to address that topic with my statement, I was only referring to scouting in regards to the draft.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        Not even high draft picks have high hit rates. Their ability to consistently produce quality players from later in the draft is a major credit to their development team.

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  6. PL says:

    Oakland might finally get the big name FA they have been trying to sign for 2 years (Furcal, Beltre, Chapman). No more Chavez or Sheets on the books and an owner who has said he will open his wallet for any player Beane wants. Crawford meshes well with the defense+speed minded A’s. Could be the final piece of that puzzle…

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    • Wally says:

      Too much money. Ownership isn’t going to invest in anything long term or expensive until they at least lock up a new stadium deal.

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  7. Jeff in So. Indiana says:

    Dave,

    I think you are underestimating the depth of this recession.

    The NY Giants and Jets sverely cut ticket prices to a new stadium.

    The division leading Reds only drew 15,000 paying fans last night. The examples are endless.

    Of course, there’s always some fool GM out there that wants a guy through their mid-30s. Too bad HGH can’t keep their aging process slowed anymore.

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    • Steve says:

      5 years for Crawford would be age 29, 30, 31, 32, and 33. i guess that’s “mid-30′s”.

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    • Kevin S. says:

      If HGH is effective at slowing down the aging process (I don’t know that it is for world-class athletes), there’s no reason someone previously using it couldn’t continue using it. It’s not tested for, and the test they have for it is terribly unreliable.

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  8. TCQ says:

    I went way above most of the rest of the projections, right around where you were, Dave. Did that before reading any comments, and it’s definitely interesting how it played out. I think people are under-estimating how far teams over shoot on their last bid in an auction format, though.

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  9. William says:

    i also figured a deal in line of 7 years, 120 mil, something like hollidays deal. Especially since crawford has skills that age well, (speed, defense), and hes been great the last two years, combined with teams like the tigers and yanks bidding, i wouldn’t be to suprised if he touched 150 mil. a mark texiera deal seems like a longshot but with the yankees bidding, anything can happen

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    • mowill says:

      No way. Teams just don’t value what Crawford brings to the table for what it is worth simply because he doesn’t hit the ball out of the park.

      From watching years of free agent deals and current club extensions it is pretty clear to me at least that home run power is locked up at a premium and everything else is discounted. Not really fair, but it has been a pattern for a while and with home run power diminishing across the league I expect the trend to continue and possibly become more pronounced.

      If Crawford was 3 years older I’d say he would be looking at a deal similar to Chone Figgins. Because of his age and the money teams like Detroit and the Angels have to spend I expect him to end up somewhere right between Ichiro and Matt Holliday.

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    • I’m still waiting for explanations for the deals Juan Pierre and Gary Mathews Jr. got, and if it isn’t for their speed and defense, then I really have no idea how they got the deals!

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      • batpig says:

        (1) both deals were universally panned at the time they were made, and (2) neither deal is in the same realm of the deals obtained by power hitters like Teixeira, Holliday, etc. In other words, they don’t really contradict the idea that “speed players” don’t get top dollar.

        That being said, the GM Jr. deal was after a career year in which he hit .313 with 19 HR and a near .500 SLG, so he doesn’t really qualify here. He was never a “speed player”. Just a bad signing of a 4th OF after a career year.

        Furthermore, Crawford is significantly better than both guys. He is much more than a “speed player” as some are demeaning him with comps to Juan Pierre. His game is pretty well rounded and he is talented enough to adapt as he ages.

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      • I don’t disagree with your points batpig.

        I did not intend to (nor do I think I did) compare them one-to-one with Crawford, as I see him as an elite player (whom I wouldn’t mind the Giants pursuing and signing), but rather I was kind of mocking the point above that speed and defense is not valued, and somehow these two very average type players got a pretty rich contract.

        Yes, I know they were panned, but that’s the point, teams still made those contracts, so at least one team was valuing speed and defense significantly. And all it takes is one.

        And when a player has a peak year like Mathews did, I don’t think that teams are that blind to assume that one year is the new norm, but they do up the value some to account for the possibility that it might.

        And, given that he did it in Texas, one would think that they would have accounted for that in their valuation as well (and I realize that could be a bad assumption).

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  10. William says:

    Dave -

    I actually agree with you here, and may even go a step further to the tune of another million or two per year (though maybe six instead of seven):

    Vs. Holliday, he is much more tooled, what with his speed and fielding (now in vogue) significantly better than Holliday, who is largely reliant on power and yet went into his FA with two years of much lower than his career average ISO. Teams might be much more comfortable paying for someone with average pop when he also has other attributes that really shine and don’t seem to be in danger of declining any time soon.

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    • batpig says:

      I just don’t see him approaching / beating Holliday’s deal unless the Yankees get involved and drive the price up.

      mowill is right — power is what gets paid. Crawford may be an equivalent overall player to Holliday in an objective analysis, but I can’t see a team paying that much for an OF without plus power.

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      • mowill says:

        Exactly right. Remember the prognostications of Figgins getting 10-12 mil a year before FA last year. The M’s offered him nine and he jumped without thinking or waiting for a counter offer.

        My guess is some team like Detroit or the Angels offers him either an extra year(s) or 2-3 mil per year extra and he jumps at it right away. He is the type of player that waiting to sign will just see more teams going in other directions and serious teams dropping years and dollars. Plus I think everyone realizes this years power spike will not hold up in a park that is exposed to the elements, except maybe for the extreme band boxes, none of which teams I see signing him.

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      • batpig says:

        I’m shocked that you think I’m “exactly right” considering I just said YOU were right :-p so you are saying you do agree with yourself?

        I think you are selling Crawford a bit short though. While I agree he won’t get Holliday money, I don’t think the market for him is as weak as you are portraying it, there are a lot of teams who know how good of an overall talent he is and are salivating to add him to their roster.

        I also disagree that his power will not hold up, he is a legit 15-20 HR bat and the Trop isn’t exactly a HR bandbox. Crawford has a football player’s build, he is big and strong, not some skinny speed demon like Dexter Fowler.

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      • And looking at Bill James handbook, HR power for LHH is depressed, about 94 on scale of 100 for 2009, 91 for 2007-2009. That’s some significant shrinkage, 4th worse in AL. His power might spike upward to 20+ if you account for physical/intellectual peak.

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  11. Matt K says:

    I agree with you. I think he’s going to get more than the group consensus. yankees will be involved…

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  12. steve says:

    I must have missed the memo that speed and defense don’t decline with age but power does . . .

    I think you have it backwards my friend.

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  13. Cidron says:

    Hmm.. Ask Manny about that power decline.. or that defense decline with age, and then ask Juan Pierre and Scott Podsednik about that speed decline as they age, Steve. The bat tends to slow before the wheels. And, the good thing is, Crawford actually has wheels and a bat that can clear the walls. Moot point, which declines faster.

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  14. John says:

    Loving the new contract series. Could you maybe include the outliers as well next time?

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  15. SPANdemonium says:

    More #6org garbage

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  16. Joel says:

    Just goes to show that the crowds have been very wrong this (and most) offseasons. Too much historical bias, as just about every contract has been underestimated, often by a lot.

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