Brandon Crawford was 13 years old when AT&T Park opened it’s gates. He played baseball at nearby Foothill High School in Pleasanton, California and dreamed of someday becoming a Giant. On April 7th he receives his 2012 World Series Championship ring, but how far away is his long-term contract?
Crawford was drafted by the Giants in the 4th round of the 2008 amateur draft. He is only the sixth player in MLB history to hit a grand slam in his first big league game (May 27, 2011). In 2012 Crawford became the Giants opening day shortstop. His stunning defensive ability has been critical to the success of the franchise.
Certainly the news of the ground-breaking $167 million, multi-year contract for catcher Buster Posey bodes well for Crawford’s future with the team. Posey is only one season ahead of Crawford. The MVP catcher was due to become a free agent in 2017 and was arbitration eligible in 2014, but the club chose to lock Posey up through the 2021 season with an option for 2022.
Brandon Crawford is arbitration eligible in 2015 and will become a free agent in 2018. What will the Giants decide to do between now and then?
The franchise, which has won the championship in two of the last three years, is quietly building a west coast dynasty by securing hard-working, homegrown players. Pitchers Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner have both signed lucrative multi-year deals with the club. Buster Posey joins his battery-mates as the third player to come up through the farm system and commit to play the majority of his professional baseball career as a Giant.
So why should the ownership offer millions of dollars to a shortstop when they control him for several more seasons at a vastly discounted rate?
Because the price-tag on Brandon Crawford is soon going to skyrocket. There is every possibility that he will win a Gold Glove in 2013. A spot on the All-Star team may also be in his future. In 2012 his defense was never in question…the guy puts on a show. People have wondered about his offense, but along the way he seems to have figured it out.
In 2012 he ended up with a fairly respectable batting average of .248. But the confidence of winning a World Series and continuing to see Major League pitching has improved Crawford’s game. No one really pays attention to Spring Training numbers, but that being said, Crawford pulled .373/.424/.610 in Arizona training camp this year.
San Francisco has a winning formula. It seems to be based on gathering a group of humble, team-oriented players with a steady manager and capable coaches and trainers. They are locking up a core group of hard-working guys who are serious on the field and caring and happy the rest of the time. Overall they are a collection of eager, talented young players who understand the way the game needs to be played at AT&T.
Crawford fits this mold and he will get his big contract before the 2013 season is over.
(statistics courtesy of www.baseball-reference.com)