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Two more hurdles for Angels in Carl Crawford derby

December 5, 2010 |  3:37 pm

Crawford_250 Bad news for the Angels on two fronts Sunday: The Boston Red Sox failed to sign Adrian Gonzalez by their negotiating window, which closed Sunday morning, and the Washington Nationals signed Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126-million contract on Sunday afternoon.

Each development threatens to hamper the Angels' efforts to sign outfielder Carl Crawford, their primary target in free agency.

The Red Sox certainly can revive discussions with Gonzalez and with the San Diego Padres on a trade package that would accompany a contract extension. Gonzalez, a first baseman, is a better player than Crawford -- better at getting on base, with better power. The Red Sox could take the money they offered Gonzalez and see whether Crawford would take it, then turn back to Gonzalez if not. The Red Sox also have enough money to trade for Gonzalez, already under contract at $6.3 million for the 2011 season, and sign Crawford as well.

The Werth signing is more ominous, for that leaves Crawford as the only top-flight outfielder available. The Nationals had to overpay to get Werth -- such is life among non-contenders -- but in so doing they set what is sure to be a salary floor for Crawford. If Werth can get $18 million per year for seven years, Crawford surely can fetch more in dollars, years or both. Crawford is two years younger, after all, and he is the lone elite option for the Angels, Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and any other club in search of an outfielder.

The New York Yankees could make a play for Crawford too. The Texas Rangers could pitch Crawford on playing in his home state -- and how would Crawford in left field and Josh Hamilton in center compare to, say, Bobby Abreu in left and Peter Bourjos in center in Anaheim?

And, just as the Nationals did with Werth, what if a non-contender offers the most money -- as the Nationals did with Mark Teixeira two years ago and the Baltimore Orioles did with Vladimir Guerrero seven years ago, when the Angels signed him?

Bottom line: If the Angels are to win their first big-time bidding war under owner Arte Moreno, the price just went up, maybe way up.

-- Bill Shaikin

Photo: Carl Crawford. Credit: Kirby Lee / US Presswire

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