PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Rays star
When he is told that word has it the Yankees covet him, he seems unfazed. Maybe he's heard this before, maybe he doesn't care.
"I don't think about other teams,'' says the perpetually upbeat 28-year-old. "I'm only concerned with what goes on with the Rays.''
Still, as one competing executive says, "The Yankees absolutely love Crawford."
And what the Yankees love, they usually get.
Of course, the Rays love Crawford, too, and he loves them, as well as Florida, the sun and the fact they've turned into a contender before his very eyes. "I've been here since I was 17. This is all I know,'' he says.
Despite that, and that they are a worthy competitor in the stacked AL East, the Rays will need all the luck in the world to hold onto Crawford. Even more, they will need Crawford's charity, as there's no way this small-market, low-revenue team can pay the going rate for such an everyday free-agent star.
Crawford, who will make $10 million this season, is probably at least a $15-million-a-year player on the open market. But when that is mentioned to him, he just laughs and acts like he has never heard it. "That's a lot,'' he says. "That's way past where I make. That's a lot of money.''
Tampa Bay tried hard to lock him up this past offseason, and got nowhere slow. "That's something we spent a good amount of time on this winter and, obviously, wasn't something that came together quickly or easily," says Rays GM
The general view around baseball is that the Rays, a resourceful team but certainly far from a rich one, have very little chance to keep an everyday free-agent star such as Crawford. But
"We're going to do everything we can within out means to keep him a Ray,'' Sternberg tells SI.com.
"I'm a realist,'' Friedman adds. "It's definitely going to be difficult. But as Stu said, we'll do everything in our power to make it happen.''
Realistically, the Rays' best hope might be for the Yankees to concentrate on someone else. But that isn't very likely. The Yankees determined that they wanted to avoid a two-year deal for
The Yankees do like the Phillies'
The Rays have a lot of positive elements as they endeavor to beat the Yankees and Red Sox on the field, as they did two years ago. They have a nice farm system, but their window to upend the sport's two biggest powers could be short, as star first baseman
"Carl should and will do whatever's in his best interest. But we are certain it won't affect the season,'' Sternberg said, adding, "Pena's a big part of the equation, too.''
Should Crawford leave, the Rays happen to have a very viable left field option for 2011 in top prospect
"Desmond has all the tools to be an impact player on both sides, Friedman says. But we're not looking at him as a replacement for Crawford. Ideally, he's someone to play alongside him.''
In the end, very few star players can turn down the bright lights, or the big bucks. And let's not forget that Crawford didn't take a deal this winter. But even if others say he is a goner, that he won't be able to resists the Yankee riches, he doesn't rule it out that he might stay a Ray.
"I don't see any reason why not,'' he says. "You never know how these things might work out.'' But in this one case, there's a very big favorite very early in the game.
The Twins showed signs they were a changed organization this winter when they ran their payroll up to close to the $100-million mark. This marked the first time in forever the Twins are paying about as much for players as the Cardinals and even the Dodgers. (In the case of L.A., that may have something to do with the fact that owner
But it's the Twins' $184-million, eight-year deal for hometown, home-grown star
Now the Twins have awarded the fourth highest contract of alltime, behind the two
The Twins have announced themselves as a team that means business with this deal and the ones before it that made them a near-$100-million team. So now, with the news that star closer
The Twins organization is filled with great scouts, but no one in Twins camp seems certain they have a viable closer already in camp.
• Mets manager
• Steady veteran
• Mariners manager
• The Rays hope
• Cardinals shortstop
• The Rockies dodged a bullet when
• The snag in the Texas Rangers' sale talks appears fairly serious. Two sources say they believe the banks are looking for $50 million more. They are unlikely to cut Rangers owner