Does Randy Winn's Signing Mean Carl Crawford for New York Yankees in 2011?

Doug RushSenior Analyst IJanuary 28, 2010

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 07:  Carl Crawford #13 of the Tampa Bay Rays throws hit bat in the air during the game against the New York Yankees on September 7, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

I've been away for the last few days, mainly due to a hectic work week and celebrating my 26th birthday yesterday, but I am back with another story, and we have some major news in Yankees Universe.

The Yankees FINALLY have their left fielder for 2010, signing former Giants outfielder Randy Winn to a one-year deal worth about $2 million.

This signing basically means Johnny Damon's departure from the Bronx.

So now with Winn in left, what does this mean for the Yankees?

Well, with a one-year deal, you have to figure Winn is a short-term solution to left field.

It also means that Brett Gardner will be the fourth outfielder like expected and be a late game substitution for speed, defense, and stolen bases.

Winn is currently 35 and will be 36 years old in June of 2010, so he's more on the decline of his career as well.

After Xavier Nady signed with the Cubs, Winn was the best of the bargain bin players for left, which is why Cashman made the move.

Granted Winn is not the popular player that Johnny Damon is, nor is he the offensive-type player like Damon is as well, but Winn is no bum either.

In 2009, Winn only hit .262 with two home runs and 51 RBI, a down year for him. In 2008, Winn hit .306 with 10 home runs and 64 RBI, which are more like the numbers he has put up for his career.

Winn will probably be placed near the bottom of the Yankees order and it will put Nick Johnson in the No. 2 hole vacated by Damon. In fact, Winn may even be the eight or nine hole hitter, depending on where Joe Girardi wants to put Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher.

But you also have to wonder if Brian Cashman has a vision for the future in left field. He knows there is a big name out on the market next season, whom he may want in left field.

Yes, I am talking about Carl Crawford.

With Damon being forced out the door and refusing to give him a two-year or even a one-year deal, you have to figure Cashman has a plan for not only 2010, but for 2011 and beyond as well.

Crawford is a solid player that, unlike Jason Bay and Matt Holliday, may be impossible for the Yankees to pass up on next offseason.

Crawford will be in his last year of his contract in 2010 with the Rays, and Tampa Bay isn't known for spending a lot of money on talent, but producing their own from their minor league system.

Even though Crawford is one of Tampa's own, he has developed into a solid player and one of the league's best in stealing bases.

He doesn't hit for a ton of home runs in Tampa, but he does hit for average, and when he does get on base is an absolute terror to catch.

Now, come to think of the home run power, he averaged anywhere from 11-18 home runs in Tropicana Field. Take Crawford and put him in the new Yankee Stadium where it's a home run haven and maybe he finds a power stroke.

Now, the Crawford talk is all speculation on my part, but I am not the only one on here who has talked about the Yankees getting Crawford. I've had many discussions in my stories with several of you and a lot of you feel like the Yankees could get Crawford as well.

It would make sense for them to get him. Crawford is only 28 going on 29 this year, so he is in the best years of his baseball career right now, whereas many felt Bay, Holliday, and Damon were going on the decline soon.

Winn's signing wouldn't be blocking a chance for Crawford either since the Yankees only signed him for one year, so that wouldn't be a problem.

There are only two possible problems I could see.

The first one would be Tampa Bay having a full year to negotiate with Crawford and try to lock him up before next November hits. Now, whether or not Tampa would do this is the big question. Also, many have to wonder what Crawford wants in a contract long term.

The second one is, if Tampa feels like if they can't re-sign Crawford and fall out of the A.L. East race again, if they decide to trade him and get something in return like they did for Scott Kazmir last season.

If Crawford is traded to another team, that gives the new team a chance to throw money at Crawford as well, which could prevent him from hitting free agency.

Those are the only two things that would stop the Yankees from pursuing. But considering what Bay and Holliday got on the market, I doubt Crawford is going to not elect for free agency and test the market.

Crawford's abilities could easily get him anywhere from $65-$80 million on a four or five-year deal easily. If it gets into a bidding war, the Yankees do have the money to drive up any price.

But like I said before, this is clearly all speculation on my part. The 2010 season hasn't even begun yet, and we've discussed the next offseason where the names on the market are going to be a lot better than what we saw in this winter's free agency.

Does Cashman have a plan for 2011 and beyond? Does he target Crawford? We can all guess, but looks like we'll have to find out at a future date.