It's August 4th and the Tampa Bay Rays have the best record in baseball. After defeating the Twins last night, the Rays sit alone atop the American League East.
The Rays MVP to date? That would be Carl Crawford. The 29 year old outfielder is having a career year, hitting .309, with a career best .855 OPS and 38 stolen bases. Crawford is also one of the best defensive outfielders in all of baseball. So far this season, he's saved his team nearly 20 runs on defense alone.
The face of the Tampa Bay franchise over the past decade is also the teams biggest problem going forward. Crawford's contract expires at the end of this season. While Tampa Bay would certainly love to bring him back, losing superstars is just part of being a small market team. The Rays core will still be one of the best in baseball, led by budding superstar Evan Longoria, the best third baseman in the league right now, and a young, talented rotation.
But how will they replace their offensive catalyst?