It's been a long time since the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim missed the playoffs, and their remedy of choice seems to be pretty obvious: Carl Crawford.
With the season officially over for the Angels, speculation about signing the free-agent outfielder has begun in earnest, and the Los Angeles Times reported on Monday that the team will be more than willing to open up its wallet to do so.
"Arte [Moreno] is [ticked off]," Torii Hunter, who spent All-Star week wooing Crawford, said. "And when he's [ticked off], great things happen."
As a result, the Angels owner will likely be willing to increase the team's $121 million payroll to upwards of $135 million, which would be enough to give Crawford the $100 million or more that he will likely yield.
Still, not everybody is sold that Crawford to Anaheim is a sure thing.
Peter Gammons recently told WEEI, "Everybody assumes he's going to go to the Angels. I'm not so sure. First of all, Arte Moreno isn't always great with free agents. Arte likes to kind of do business, 'OK, this is what I'll pay you and that's that.'"
While a Red Sox-Angels bidding war seems to be the likely scenario, ESPN's Buster Olney believes that other teams may be involved.
"Some surprise bidders could always emerge in the Crawford sweepstakes, such as the Detroit Tigers, or the Washington Nationals, or the Houston Astros (Crawford is from that town), or the Dodgers," Olney wrote. "But the expectation is that the Red Sox and Angels will be very aggressive in pursuing the outfielder, and one high-ranking executive said on Thursday that he could not recall a position player being in a better negotiating position going into free agency. (Although Mark Teixeira certainly had a lot of market forces — and his talent — working for him, as well.) 'I think he's going to get a seven-year deal,' said the executive."
Crawford, of course, is still playing for the AL East champion Tampa Bay Rays, though it seems as though they are just about the only team without a chance to sign him for 2011.