Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Carl Crawford Clause

When the details of the Carl Crawford signing started lo leak out, there was always one portion of it that seemed odd to me. Since the Sox don’t give out no-trade clauses, they came up with another clause. Crawford would pick two teams, and the Sox picked one, and Crawford couldn’t be traded to any of those three teams. The Sox picked the Yankees. That always seemed weird to me. After all, if the Sox didn’t want to trade him to the Yankees they could, I don’t know, not trade him to the Yankees. So, why the clause?

Well the Red Sox blogs were going a little nutty this weekend talking about the fact that the clause didn’t affect only the Red Sox. Since the clause was part of his contract, it would apply to any team Crawford was traded to for the life of the contract. So, if the Red Sox traded Crawford, his new team would still be unable to trade Crawford to the Yankees for the life of the contract. In many cases, that news was met with a vocal “WooHoo!” Another case of the Sox beating the Yankees this off-season. Not only do they get Crawford, but they ensure that the Yankees won’t ever get him. I admit, that was my first reaction. Great move by Theo! Thinking it over for a bit, though, I’m not sure I understand the point.

The Red Sox have Carl Crawford under contract for the next seven years. (It’s seven, right?) In theory, they control his entire prime, and maybe another year or two after that. They’re paying the guy $20 million a year. Why would they trade him? The only reasons? If he goes all Mike Hampton on them and plays so far below his contract it’s almost humorous. Or, if he gets injured midway though the deal. Or, if he’s the next Manny and they think they need to get rid of him to help the clubhouse. So, is there any of those three cases where the Sox would mind sending him to the Yankees? If he’s playing so far below his value, why wouldn’t the Sox want NY to have an albatross of a contract? If he gets hurt, why would the Sox mind watching him gimp around Yankee Stadium for a year or two? If he’s a true clubhouse cancer, why wouldn’t the Sox encourage trading him to NY? It’s even more ridiculous when you get the third team involved. So, now the Sox are worried about the Yanks getting a player who two other teams deemed not worthy of a roster spot? Huh?

Think back to all the players who have been traded twice during one contract. There haven’t been many. Were any of them players you’d fear going to NY? Maybe there’s been a “money-laundering” type deal that had a star player being shipped around. Like Mike Piazza going from LA to Florida to NY. Or, a youngster switching teams before somebody has to pay him the big bucks. Like Cliff Lee. He went from Cleveland to Philly to Seattle to Texas without ever becoming a free agent because nobody wanted to pay him. (Although, the Phillies did end up paying him) Or, Mark Teixeira going from Texas to Atlanta to LA. But, those aren’t worries for the Sox, right? They aren’t going to trade Crawford just to save money if he’s still producing, right? Other players shipped from team to team are shipped around for a reason. I say, let NY have as many of those players as they can get.

Especially if Crawford becomes one of them.

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