Carl Crawford’s $142 million contract has been a complete disaster and it just got worse

Carl CrawfordStephen Dunn/Getty Images

Prior to the 2011 season, the Boston Red Sox made one of the big offseason splashes, signing free agent outfielder Carl Crawford to a 7-year, $142 million contract. That deal, which now is the Los Angeles Dodgers’ problem, has been a disaster and it just got worse.

The Dodgers have informed Carl Crawford that he will not start in left field this season, essentially making him a $21 million backup. Crawford broke the news himself.

“They told me there will be a lot of at-bats for me, but [Andre Ethier] starts, and he’s earned it,” said Crawford, via Ken Gurnick of “I’ll get spot starts and be ready to pinch-hit for the pitcher a lot. That’s pretty much it — just be ready to come off the bench.”

In the two seasons before signing his contract with the Red Sox, Crawford averaged 6.8 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) with 17 home runs, 54 stolen bases, a .306 average, and a .360 OBP. In the five years since leaving the Tampa Bay Rays in free agency, Crawford has averaged 1.2 WAR, with 6 home runs, 14 stolen bases, a .276 average, and a .314 OBP.

01Cork Gaines/Business Insider

Late in the 2012 season, the Red Sox were able to dump Crawford’s contract on the Dodgers in a 9-player trade in which L.A. also acquired All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Here is what the Dodgers ultimately paid in the 9-player trade with the Red Sox that brought Gonzalez to Los Angeles:

  • The Dodgers sent James Loney, a productive starting first baseman, and four prospects to the Red Sox
  • Assuming they are unable to trade Crawford over the next two seasons, the Dodgers will ultimately have to pay him $106 million for what has been 5.8 Wins Above Replacement in three seasons so far. For comparison, there were 19 players in MLB who were worth at least 5.8 Wins in 2015 alone.
  • The Dodgers also acquired Josh Beckett in the trade, and ultimately paid him $34 million for 35 starts over three seasons before he retired.
  • The Dodgers were also on the hook for the $134 million still owed to Gonzalez over the final six years of his contract.
  • Nick Punto was the final player acquired in the deal. He played in 138 games for the Dodgers before leaving in free agency.
  • The Dodgers did receive $12 million from the Red Sox to offset a small part of the salaries to be paid to the players.

In all, the Dodgers gave up five players and will spend $264 million on salaries and the only good thing they really got was what could end up being six All-Star level seasons from Gonzalez.

That’s a high price and Crawford is the biggest chunk of that.

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