Now you've done it, Giants. You putzed around for a few years, lollygagging and what have you, and now Brandon Crawford is an All-Star. He's not an okay-enough shortstop. He's not a fine player to have, all things considered. He's an All-Star, dang it, an All-Star.
And he's a gonna be expensive.
Two more seasons, remember. We have two more seasons to think about this, until which time Crawford is a happy Giants player under contract. There's no need to rush, no need to panic. The best time for an extension was probably last year or the year before that, but, well, it's time to think about what the Giants can do instead of what they should have done.
Those two seasons will go by quickly, though. I remember saying that the Giants gave Buster Posey an extension that was a little premature, and then the top extensions zoomed by him after he signed it. He would have been a free agent after next season, and his contract would easily go into the $200 million territory. Not it looks downright reasonable. We might be saying the same thing about Crawford in two years, or we might be looking at an enormous extension that'll be impossible to get used to.
What we know:
Brandon Crawford is one of the most popular Giants
Jersey sales, social media engagement, #brand, whatever your metric, Crawford is behind only Posey and Madison Bumgarner, and even then, he's pushing the two at the top. That he's hitting like an All-Star? Not necessary, but certainly helping. He combines the, uh, aesthetic sensibilities of a J.T. Snow with the extraordinarily valuable contributions of a shortstop who can hit and field.
He also has the history.
You don't think that picture counts for much. But it's worth at least a couple million. There are hometown kids, and then there are hometown kids who remind you every second that your team didn't move across the country and play under a crumbling space-dome.
Brandon Crawford is one of the most valuable shortstops in baseball
Using a blunt, but helpful, instrument:
Brandon Crawford, National League WAR ranking by season
Add it all up, and since Crawford has come into the league, he's been the fourth-most valuable shortstop in the majors, comparable to Troy Tulowitzki. Watch what Ian Desmond gets in free agency this year, even though he's having a miserable season. Then double it. You'll get in the Crawford vicinity.
The Giants should wait at least a few months, if not a year
Brandon Crawford, All-Star, sure sounds nice. I've whiffed on a lot of things in my time, and Crawford is perhaps my greatest embarrassment. I didn't think he would outhit Rey Sanchez or Jose Vizcaino in his career. When the Giants went into 2012 with him as the starting shortstop, I was appalled. How could a team with that much money go cheap on an unready shortstop like that? And now: Brandon Crawford, All-Star.
But, let's not get wacky. We're just three months into this new world, where Crawford can hit fifth or sixth in a functional lineup. While he's already set a career high in home runs, wouldn't it make sense to make sure that he's really an All-Star hitter before paying him like one?
Or, in other words, from Baseball-Reference:
Don't pay for what has happened. Pay for what will happen. An extension now would be given to Brandon Crawford, All-Star. An extension next June might be given to Brandon Crawford, very good player.
The Giants have developed middle infielders well over the last five years, so don't freak out
Or, you know, Panik.
It's way, way, way, way premature to start talking about someone like Christian Arroyo as if he's going to be a long-term solution at short. And while we know Matt Duffy can handle short just fine, it's premature to think he's a long-term solution there, too. Ehire Adrianza has a couple hundred solid at-bats in Triple-A, but not much more to suggest he's any sort of backup plan.
Don't compare any of them to Crawford now. It's not likely to be a flattering comparison. Just ask yourself the following hypothetical question:
Can the Giants find a shortstop who would be more valuable to the 2020 team than a 33-year-old Crawford making $20 million a year?
To which I answer, I dunno, maybe? One of the players who shows up on the best-shortstop leaderboard with Crawford consistently is Jhonny Peralta, and he's alive and well at 33, just as valuable as ever. Sure, there might be some better living through chemistry going on, but players don't have to shrivel into a ball and hit .150 after their 32nd birthday. If you can take one of the best shortstops in baseball at 28 for the next five years or take the field, take the bird in the hand. To a point. You don't want to pay the bird that much bird seed. You only have so much to spread around.
The Giants have time. The Giants don't need to rush. But the worst-case scenario would be if they painted themselves into a corner and were forced to give out a five-year deal to a shortstop who would be 35 on the other side. That wouldn't be a forward-thinking strategy. Everyone in the front office has some thinking to do over the next year or two. In the meantime, we can all enjoy Brandon Crawford, All-Star.
In conclusion, Brandon Crawford looks like Party Boy from Jackass, and the Giants should consider this fact when brainstorming next year's commercials.