Crawford, Rays table contract talks until end of season
UPDATE, 8:02: The Rays, who typically don't discuss contract negotiations, didn't have much to say in response. "As we’ve said repeatedly, we’re excited about having C.C. for the 2010 season and potentially beyond,'' executive VP Andrew Friedman said. "But right now all of our focus is on getting back to October.’’
DEVELOPING: Unable to reach a deal now, the Rays and Carl Crawford have decided to table any further negotiations on a new contract until after the season.
“We had an opportunity to exchange ideas with the club about a contract extension for Carl and it was clear to all of us that an immediate agreement was not going to materialize,’’ agent Brian Peters told the St. Petersburg Times this afternoon. “Thus, we all agreed to table discussions until the end of the year. We’d like to minimize distractions for Carl and the club and keep the focus on baseball, so we don’t plan to comment upon Carl’s contract status again until after the season.”
Crawford reported to camp this week saying he was hoping for the chance to stay, and determined to not allow his pending free agency to become a distraction. He reiterated those feelings Thursday, and said he will no longer talk about the situation.
“I have said before that I’d love to sign a contract extension with the Rays and I hope that things work out that way,’’ Crawford said. “This organization has been great to me and I love playing here. For now, I just want to put all my efforts into helping the Rays return to the World Series, and to win it this time. There will be plenty of time after the season is over to talk about a new contract. To avoid potential distractions for me and my teammates, this is all I’m going to say about my contractual situation until after the season."
Rays officials were not immediately available for comment.
Crawford is heading into the final season of a six-year $33.5-million contract that kept him from free agency for two extra seasons. But he will have a chance to make up for it as one of the most attractive players on the market, at age 29 with (at least) three All-Star selections and four AL stolen base titles.
As much as he has meant to the franchise, the Rays do not appear in a position to be able to afford to keep him at that price. And they would be sad to see him go.
“He's been a face of this organization,’’ principal owner Stuart Sternberg said last week. “He's been a great Ray, he was a great Devil Ray, he's an extraordinary player and teammate for the community and a face of this team. We're going to do everything we can to make sure he stays here longer.''