The July 31st trade deadline has come and gone, and the Los Angeles Dodgers still have a glut of outfielders. Yasiel Puig is one of the best hitters in baseball, Matt Kemp is swinging the bat very well, and Scott Van Slyke has posted very impressive numbers in just 179 plate appearances. Top prospect Joc Pederson is tearing up Triple-A Albuquerque.
With his hefty contract that pays him $20 million per year through 2017, Crawford is a candidate to be traded this month. If the Dodgers put him on waivers, it’s unlikely that another team will try to block a trade by putting in a claim.
If they do want to trade him, the Dodgers will have to eat a big chunk of his salary or in the alternative send a quality prospect along with Crawford to sweeten the pot.
Crawford, who turns 33 this week, doesn’t possess the speed he once did. After averaging 50 stolen bases a year in his eight full seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, Crawford hasn’t topped 18 steals since. Also, injuries have taken their toll, and he’s reached 500 plate appearances only once. This season he possesses a meager .230/.267/.338 slash line in 217 plate appearances, good for a 71 wRC+. He has only 12 extra-base hits.
Still, an acquiring team could look to his 2013 season for encouragement. Despite the fact that injuries limited him to 116 games, Crawford produced 2.9 fWAR with a solid .283/.329/.407 batting line. While he stole only 15 bases, he had +5 base running runs and played solid outfield defense. Those aren’t star numbers, and they don’t justify his $21 million salary, but it’s good all-around production.
Looking forward, Crawford’s projections aren’t favorable. ZiPS forecasts a .257/.297/.392 batting line for a 95 wRC+. Steamer is slightly more optimistic, with a .270/.313/.407 projection for Crawford. Unless some team is hopeful that he can product like he did in 2013 or in his prime years with the Rays, Crawford is a platoon outfielder.
He’s struggled mightily against left-handed pitching over the course of his career, and his splits have been more pronounced in the last two seasons. He’s owed $62 million between 2015-17, and at least half of that is dead weight.
Unless the Dodgers are willing to part with a large amount of cash or deal one of their top prospects, which they appear reluctant to do, Crawford will likely occupy a spot on their bench. They have two very expensive outfielders which are essentially platoon players in Crawford and Ethier, and another very expensive one which should be a designated hitter in Kemp.
While they would like to part ways with at least one of those players, if any team can afford to keep them around it’s the Dodgers.