During the winter baseball meetings the Red Sox added two talented pieces to their proverbial puzzle, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and left fielder Carl Crawford. If the team can stay healthy, which it couldn’t do in 2010, this will be one of the nastiest lineups in baseball in 2011. That is the good news, but there may also be some bad news just around the corner.
Extension: When Boston traded prospects Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes, and a player to be named later to the San Diego Padres for Gonzalez, they knew he had just one year left on his contract. Boston was given a window by Major League Baseball to work out an extension, which they were unable to do. Boston still decided to go through with the trade. At the press conference, set up to introduce Gonzalez, everyone seemed happy. There was talk, by General Manager Theo Epstein, that the team and Gonzalez’s agents were on the same page and they felt an extension could be worked out in the near future. All appeared happy in Red Sox Nation.
The wrench: Two days after the Gonzalez press conference the Red Sox brought in free agent outfielder Carl Crawford. The contract, 7 years for $142 million, made Crawford the best paid outfielder in baseball. It was a nice coup for Boston, especially since the New York Yankees seemed to be caught napping while waiting on a decision by free agent pitcher Cliff Lee. Could life get any better for a Red Sox fan?
The problem: Does the contract that the Red Sox gave Crawford drive up the price on Gonzalez? I think Gonzalez’s agents are now salivating at the thought of how much more they can bleed from the Red Sox. The Red Sox apparently wanted to put off an extension so they could avoid paying luxury tax on it for a year. This may just be a mistake. If Gonzalez’s agents decide to wait even longer and let the first baseman put up some massive numbers in Fenway Park, who is stopping them from asking for even more money. He could ask for a contract in the neighborhood of Alex Rodriguez, basically $27.5 million a year. The Red Sox would either have to pay him the price or possibly let him go after just one year. If the Red Sox get stuck letting him walk after a year the deal could turn out to be a dud. The Red Sox can’t claim to be on a tight budget when they just lavished Crawford with his nice contract. It will become clear in 2011 whether Theo Epstein helped save the Red Sox some luxury tax money or made a colossal misstep in trusting an agent. I think in the end it will wind up costing the Red Sox, I’m just not sure how.
More from this contributor:
5 Worst Baseball Announcers
4 Players who Should be in the Hall of Fame
If I Could Change Sports History
Jamal Wilburg, Carl Crawford Signs with Boston Red Sox, bleacherreport.com
Jeff Sullivan, Adrian Gonzalez Red Sox May Have Have Contract Extension Agreement, sbnation.com