Boston Red Sox five biggest player busts from 2010-2019
By Mike Towle
It didn’t take long after the Red Sox made gaudy headlines in December 2010 with the free-agent signing of outfielder Carl Crawford for this 7-year, $142 million deal to turn south. Buyer’s remorse came early and it arrived with a thud. It began with the scuttlebutt that the 29-year-old Crawford’s legs were about shot, the unfortunate result of playing nine seasons on the Tampa Bay Rays’ unforgiving artificial turf at Tropicana Field.
Crawford’s career and star status had been built almost entirely on his speed (409 steals, 105 triples, a .296 BA, etc. with the Rays), particularly noticeable when he stole six bases against the Red Sox – in one game. It was a classic case of false advertising. Note, too, that Crawford was signed in the same offseason in which a trade (made five days before the Crawford signing) also put National League All-Star first baseman and future Red Sox clubhouse malcontent Adrian Gonzalez into a Red Sox uniform.
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. To his credit, A-Gon produced on the field and at the plate reasonably well for the Red Sox; off the field, not so wonderful.
By August 2012, Sox brass had had enough. They packaged Crawford and Gonzalez along with fading pitcher Josh Beckett, infielder Nick Punto and cash in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers that netted the Red Sox $255 million of slashed total payroll. The massive salary dump brought back some forgettable players to be named later and set the Red Sox up for a remarkable reboot (new manager, too, in John Farrell) that produced a World Series title in 2013.
If only that 2012-13 magic could have been reenacted in 2019-20. Ho-hum.
Back to Crawford. The boo birds at Fenway came out early as Crawford got off to a horrendous start in 2011, setting him up to have to scramble just to get his batting average up to .255 by season’s end. That was alongside an OBP of .289 that paled to the .337 he had compiled with the Rays. Crawford also was no longer a threat on the bases, stealing just 18 bases after seven seasons of 46 or more with Tampa Bay.
Then came health issues in 2012, starting with a wrist injury in January that required cartilage-repair surgery. Wait, there’s more. Crawford then started the season on the 60-day disabled list because of a sprained ligament in an elbow. He would play in only 31 games in 2012 – all with the Boston before the trade to the Dodgers – and he finished his 161-game stint with the Red Sox (essentially, exactly a season’s worth) with 14 home runs, 75 RBIs and a mundane slash line of .260/.292/.419/.711 that actually looks better than it really was.