Crawford: "High possibility" he won't return
Leftfielder Carl Crawford packed up his locker in the clubhouse Wednesday afternoon like he does after every season.
But this time, it felt a little different, as it could be the final time the four-time All-Star does so as a Ray. Though Crawford, who is in for a huge payday as a free agent in the offseason, said he'd love to return, he seems resigned to the fact that he'll be playing elsewhere next year, as the Rays are planning to cut their payroll.
"I know it's a high possibility I probably won't be back next year," Crawford said. "It hasn't sunk in yet. I'll just take it step by step and try not to think about it that much."
As Crawford said goodbye to teammates, he reflected on how special his nine big league seasons have been with the Rays, the only club he's ever known.
"I was 17 when I came here, it's sa big part of my life," he said. "There's always going to be a place for the Tampa Bay area in my heart. I just remember how I got drafted here and went through so much and then everything changed, and we all formed into a nice group of ballplayers. And seeing how everything went from one extreme to the next will always be a memorable moment for me."
Crawford said he'd like to be remembered by fans as a player who "gave everything I had," and appreciated the fans chanting his name in his last few games at Tropicana Field. He did acknowledge that money will be a factor in what team he chooses.
"That's a big part of everything, but when it comes down to it, you just want to go somewhere where you're comfortable," he said. "And obviously the financial part, you just want to be paid for what you do, I guess."
While some players leave and sometimes hear boos from their old home crowd, Crawford hopes that - if that is the case - the reception is warm.
"I didn't leave on bad terms here," he said. "That's the way we wanted it, both sides were happy. So it'll be nice to come back here and get a warm reception. Like I said, I always liked this area and I still might stay here in the offseason."