Thursday, December 9, 2010

Where do the Angels, Yankees, and Rangers Go from Here?

This is essentially part two of my previous article on Crawford.  I wanted to take a look at how Crawford's signing with the Red Sox affects his other suitors.

So how does it affect the rest of Crawford's suitors?  Let's take a look: 

Angels - The Angels made it no secret Crawford was their primary target this offseason.  Unfortunately for them, when it came time to put the money on the table, they balked offering him a 6 year deal worth $108M.  For you math majors out there, that's $34M less than what the Red Sox offered him.  Considering that Jayson Werth received $18M per season from the Nationals, $18M per season from the Angels wasn't going to cut it.  Crawford is a much better overall player.

So where do they go from here?  Their primary targets become Adrian Beltre and Cliff Lee.  Unless they're willing to not only match the Yankees $23M annual average salary, but also tack on a seventh year, they can't be considered anything but a long shot.  As for Beltre, he becomes the logicial primary target.  They need to look at making a strong offer, and getting him locked up ASAP.  If Lee signs with the Yankees before Beltre gets locked up, the Rangers could become interested in moving on Beltre.  Furthermore, as the market for Beltre's services continues to shrink, the A's could come back into the fold.  To date, they're the only team to make an official offer for Beltre.

If the Angels lose out on Beltre, it will be a long 2011 season in Los Angeles of Anaheim.

Yankees - The Yankees are now backed into a corner.  No longer do they have the option to fall back on Crawford if they fail to sign Cliff Lee, so signing Lee is a must.  Yesterday, they offered him a very strong 6 year deal worth around $140M.  While this appears to be a winning bid, there are still one or two mystery teams lurking that may have offered  him seven years.  (The Red Sox are rumored to possibly be one of those teams.  If this is the case, we no longer have to worry about one of the mystery teams.  The Red Sox presumably dropped out of the Lee sweepstakes when they signed Crawford.)  If Braunecker and Lee go back to the Yankees and strongly request a seventh year, I fully expect the Yankees to oblige.

The Yankees have to make a move now.  If they were to let Lee sign with another team, this would completely shift the balance of power in the AL East.  The trade market (save for Zach Greinke who's rumored to be on the move to either the Rangers or Marlins) is pretty bare right now, so there aren't a lot of replacement options.  The only major free agent pitcher that's still available is Carl Pavano.  They've been there, and done that.  As I mentioned yesterday, the 2012 free agent pitching class is pretty underwhelming.  If the Yankees want to be serious contenders in the AL East in 2011 (and maybe 2012), it appears that it's Cliff Lee or bust.
Rangers - The Rangers are in a similar predicament as the Yankees in that they can't fall back on Crawford if they lose out on Lee.  That said, Lee is still very interested in the returning to the Rangers.  In fact, he's gone as far as saying he'd return to the Rangers if they'd agree to offer him six years.  Still, I don't see this happening.  They started out the negotiations at four years, and seem a little reluctant to even go to five.  If they can't push themselves to at least matching the Yankees six year offer, they can kiss Lee goodbye. 

If they lose out on Lee, I can see them doing two things:  (1) making a very strong trade offer to acquire Greinke, and (2) upping the efforts to trade Michael Young to the Rockies.  If they're successful in unloading Michael Young (and his ridiculous contract), this would open up a spot to sign Adrian Beltre.  Wrestling Beltre away from the Angels (along with making the Greinke trade) would be a huge coup for the Rangers that would help them shift the balance of power in the AL West further towards them.

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