With spring training less than two months away, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been relatively quiet in the player personnel department; but as February quickly approaches, expect the Dodgers front office to start shuffling a few players — especially in the outfield.
One player who continues to draw consistent criticism from the fan base is left fielder Carl Crawford.
Crawford, 34, is under contract with the Dodgers through the 2017 season. He’ll earn $21,607,000 in 2016 and $21,857,000 in his walk year.
His banner year as a Dodger came in 2014 when he slashed .300/.339/.429 in 105 appearances.
He has often been hampered by injuries, which was the case in 2015, when he missed almost half the season with a serious oblique strain.
There’s no question that a healthy Crawford can contribute to the Dodgers in some extent, but whether or not he can produce to the tune of $21 million remains to be seen. With up to six outfielders competing for roster spots in 2016, every spot on the 25-man is extremely valuable.
The first, which is the most unlikely, is to designate him for assignment. Although Friedman has shown no fear of DFA’ing players with hefty contracts in the past (see Brian Wilson and Brandon League), $43 million is just too large a sum to simply throw away, especially if Crawford is healthy enough to produce.
The next scenario is to try and trade him to another team. Looking at this on the surface, it seems like an impossibility, but don’t discount the creativity of Friedman.
A one-for-one deal with another team is highly improbable unless the Dodgers would settle for a lower-tier prospect and send money for all of Crawford’s 2016 contract, plus a check for a chunk of his 2017 salary. However, that’s not to say that Friedman couldn’t score a 3-4 team deal involving pieces that are only conceivable to the imagination. It’s safe to believe that Friedman and Zaidi have been on the phones now for sometime trying to make this happen.
The final option is to play Crawford part-time in left field and to utilize him as a late inning bench piece. Without a myriad of injuries, it’s reasonable to assume that Crawford won’t play every day, as there are just too many options besides him that will net better results. That being said, if the Dodgers were to trade away one or more core components of their current outfield corps, a starting spot could be conceivable.
There’s still enough time for the landscape to change in terms of players coming and going via trade, thus the decision for Friedman and Zaidi may get easier. However, a bench piece making $21 million annually will make Friedman cringe, and based on his beliefs and philosophies, he’ll certainly try his best to get a better return for his investment down the road.
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