It seems MLB teams are opening their checkbooks wider than ever this offseason, with the Washington Nationals deal with Jayson Werth shocking fans and analysts alike. But little did most know that with Werth's 7-year, $126 million deal, things were just heating up.
Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Carl Crawford hit free agent status at the end of the 2010 season, and has been shopping around teams for sometime. Many credit Werth's deal with the Nats for directly driving Crawford's asking price up. Finally this week the Boston Red Sox who had been circling Crawford for some time, came to terms on a 7-year, $142 million contract, at $20.3 million a year, surpassing Werth's $18 million average. The price tag might have been high, but Red Sox Manager Terry Francona finally got what he wanted, especially after praising Crawford last month saying:
"He’s that guy that can change a game defensively, offensively. When he gets on base, he gives you a headache."
So two outstanding players, signed astronomically priced deals that many are criticizing. No team would think to best these deals would they? Well, the New York Yankees aren't just any team when it comes to spending money.
Cliff Lee has been in the Yankees' sights since before he joined the Phillies, and he's kept a long going friendship with CC Sabathia since the two pitched for the Cleveland Indians. On Wednesday, the Yankees made it public that they extended a 6-year, $140 million deal to Lee. His reluctance to sign right away made them quickly turn around and in less than 24 hours, the Yankees delivered a 7-year, $160 million offer, just under the $161 million they extended to Sabathia in 2008. Lee is taking the weekend to mull over the terms, but holding off from immediately accepting makes it look like he's either going to wait out for a larger sum, or isn't too keen on pitching in the Bronx.
With the Red Sox and Yankees historically commanding high prices and healthy ticket sales, it's hard to determine if Lee and Crawford will drive fan demand enough to bolster sales. We'll continue to track the ticket movements throughout the Winter Meetings and the coming months.
What do you think about these high priced deals? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @SeatGeek.