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Long-term deal in works for Crawford
By MARC TOPKIN and DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published February 27, 2005
ST. PETERSBURG - Carl Crawford has made the best of his three seasons with the Devil Rays. And he is willing sign a long-term deal that would make it more likely he'd stick around at least four more.
Crawford's agents and the Rays have been exchanging proposals for deals of four to seven years and from what Crawford said Saturday the prospects for an agreement look good.
"Hopefully we can get to where both sides are happy," Crawford said. "If I'm comfortable with the deal and the Devil Rays are comfortable with the deal I'm pretty sure we'll get it done."
General manager Chuck LaMar said "discussions are continuing and we hope to have something done before the start of the championship (regular) season."
A four-year deal would cover this season, when Crawford is slotted to make around $370,000, and the three seasons he would be eligible for arbitration. The Rays are more likely to be interested in a longer term that would "buy out" his first year, or several years, of free agency.
For Crawford, 23, the deal would afford financial security and protection in case of injury and a chance to sign another long-term deal later, though there also is the possibility he could cost himself money.
"Security is always nice, but I'm realistic too," Crawford said. "I know that certain things are going to happen a certain way. So I'm not really focused on security, I'm focused on getting a fair deal done and hopefully we can do that. ...
"I want to make sure I'm satisfied with the deal. I don't want to look back and say, "Why did I do that?' I don't want to do something just for the sake of doing it. I want to have a reason behind signing a deal."
For the Rays, a deal would provide cost certainty with one of their rising talents and show a skeptical fan base they are willing to commit the money to keep a homegrown star.
"I understand that too," Crawford said. "They're trying, and I give the Devil Rays credit. They're real serious about it. In the past, I might have thought they were joking at times, but they are real serious."
The Rays made a long-term deal with Aubrey Huff before the 2004 season, signing him to a three-year, $14.5-million contract, though that hasn't prevented trade rumors from circulating throughout the winter.
The Rays opened discussions with Crawford and Rocco Baldelli last season on six-year deals worth around $24-million but didn't reach agreements. With Baldelli out until midseason with a knee injury, they are focusing on Crawford, who was an All-Star for the first time last season.
A decision is expected soon, possibly next week.
"Trust me, I want to get this deal done just as bad as the Devil Rays do," Crawford said. "I don't like being questioned about it all the time, and I really wouldn't want it hanging over my head during the season. I'd love to get this deal done and hopefully we can pretty soon."
LOU MISSES WORKOUT: Manager Lou Piniella missed his fifth full workout in the past seven days to be with his father, Lou Sr., 86, who is in Tampa's St. Joseph's Hospital with a heart condition.
Bench coach John McLaren said he had no information on Lou Sr.'s condition and did not know if Piniella would attend today's workout.
BAD TIMING: Nonroster catcher Tim Laker is expected to miss about a month after breaking his left hand when hit by a pitch during Friday's batting practice. The Rays brought minor-leaguer Charion Isenia into camp to replace Laker.
MISCELLANY: McLaren said left-hander Scott Kazmir threw a good batting practice session. That was important after a less-than-impressive session on Thursday. "I felt like I was using my whole body, and the ball came out a lot easier," Kazmir said. ... McLaren also said Hideo Nomo and Rob Bell threw well. ... Doug Waechter is scheduled to start Wednesday's exhibition game against Navy. ... Bell and Mark Hendrickson are scheduled to pitch in the Grapefruit League opener against the Reds Thursday at Al Lang Field. ... Monday's intrasquad game is at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday's is at 10:30 a.m. Both are at the Naimoli complex.
"I didn't know if I'd live that long." - DON ZIMMER, senior adviser on entering his 57th year in pro baseball.
The workout starts at 9:30 a.m. and should last until around 1 p.m. at the Naimoli complex, 7901 30th Ave. N. Live batting practice, with pitchers throwing to hitters, begins at 10:50 a.m. Admission and parking are free.
DID YOU KNOW?
Reliever Travis Harper ranks fourth in team history with 158 appearances, trailing Esteban Yan (266), Roberto Hernandez (207) and Albie Lopez (170).