From the it's-more-common-sense-than-a-rumor file, we have Buster Olney hearing that the Giants will "try to lock up shortstop Brandon Crawford to a long-term deal." Can you imagine a world in which the Giants have no interest in keeping Crawford around?
Crawford's agent: My client is really, really interested in sticking around.
Giants: Well, we have to examine market conditions and see how our numbers-crunchers think he'll age, and ...
Crawford's agent: /slides picture of 5-year-old Crawford at Candlestick Park across table
Giants: oh my heavens just look at that little scamp here is $150 million
That's what would happen, so you cannot imagine a world in which the Giants don't want to keep him. Crawford is an extremely popular, beloved Giants player. The Giants tend to keep those players, at least when they want to stay. The odds are slim that Crawford will be on another team at the start of the 2018 season.
The problem is that, golly, he sure picked a good time to start hitting. A good time for him financially, that is. Not for the Giants. Well, it's not like the Giants are sad that he's a two-way shortstop now, and one of the best in the game. They'll still have him for two more years, remember, at the very least. He is going to be so very expensive, though, and his contract will take him into his 30s.
We looked at this at the All-Star break and concluded that the Giants should wait at least until the end of the season to make sure his offensive leap forward was sustainable. Looks good from here:
Brandon Crawford, first half, 2015: .796 OPS
Brandon Crawford, second half, .762 OPS
He hit 12 homers in 81 starts before the break and nine homers in 55 starts after the break. The power looks sustainable, alright.
Back in August, 2014, there was a post titled "What should the Giants do about Brandon Crawford?" It didn't have to do with an extension, though, it had to do with an absolutely miserable slump. He was the subject of all sorts of Internet and talk-radio chatter, and it wasn't all very nice. At the end, after complaining that it was just a slump, you weirdos, I snuck this in there:
I'll go a step further: This is probably the best possible time to explore an extension. See if he'll take four or five years of guaranteed money in a season that ends with a miserable slump. He probably would prefer to sell high on himself, and he probably has the confidence to do so, but it's an idea worth exploring.
Those days are gone. Those days are sooooo gone. Maybe the Giants have been harassing him about an extension for the last three years, I don't know. But an extension last offseason would have been much, much cooler.
Part of me wants to wait, though. He was between two and three wins above replacement in his first three seasons, before jumping up to almost six last year. Another year like his first three, and he's suddenly $75 million cheaper, give or take.
Another part of me thinks that if Crawford makes it to next offseason without a deal, he'll have the leverage of his walk year. And if he repeats his 2015 season to get to next offseason, ho, man, he will get money that will make you brew coffee just to spit it on your screen.
There really isn't a great comparison for Crawford to point at. Jimmy Rollins signed a five-year deal worth $48 million in today's money back in 2005 ... but he was 26 and salaries have also exploded since then. Troy Tulowitzki was a perennial MVP candidate when he signed his big extension. J.J. Hardy signed a three-year, $40 million extension after last season, but he was 32 when he signed the deal, almost four years older than Crawford is now.
Does he want five years? Four? Six? Or does his agent think seven years and nine figures? It's such a tough contract to gauge. The Giants do have some leverage, though, considering he's almost guaranteed to be underpaid over the next two years. That might help them broker a discount for the three years after that, hopefully. Something close to Hunter Pence money would be my guess, maybe with a year tacked on because of age. Considering salary inflation, that's probably a solid deal for the Giants that will look better in two years.
I'll go out on a limb that's four inches above the ground and guess that a deal will almost certainly get done before this time next year. Crawford seems like the perfect match of a player who wants to stay and a team that wants to keep him. It probably would have been laughably cheap if this were done in 2013. It would have been a bargain if it were done after last year. Now, though? Something close to market rates. And the market rate for a Gold Glove/Silver Slugger shortstop is probably ludicrous.
The good news is that he's a Gold Glove/Silver Slugger shortstop. Those things are awesome, and the next two years should be fun, at the very least.