It was nearly a year ago that Carl Crawford was the prize of the MLB Winter Meetings. Crawford was signed by the the Red Sox and, with the deal for Adrian Gonzalez, the move was expected to be the tipping point to return the Red Sox to the World Series.
The Red Sox were nearly granted a World Series Championship before the season. Of course, we all know how it turned out.
Crawford was far from advertised in Bean Town (.256/11 HR/56 RBI) and is extremely lucky that guys named Adam Dunn and Jayson Werth were free agents last year as well. If not for those two bigger flops, Crawford would have been the no doubt biggest bust of last offseason.
At 30, Crawford's best days might be behind him, but he's still young enough that the Red Sox could attempt to deal the recently departed Theo Epstein's mistake.
Here's six teams that might take the bait.
The Tigers were thought to be a big player for Carl Crawford going into the winter meetings last year, however they quickly bowed out.
Center fielder Austin Jackson and right fielder Brennan Boesch are in the long-term plans for the Tigers outfield, but past those two it's a question mark. Delmon Young is arbitration-eligible in left field, but the Tigers have been surprisingly reluctant to voice support for Young.
Even though they're expected to offer arbitration, the Tigers could deal Young in an attempt to upgrade. Boston might be a good match for Young as he hit Fenway Park well early in his career with the Rays.
They have Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen off the books this year and haven't been attached to any of the high-priced free agents, so they have a little money to play with as well.
In their quest to do their best "Evil Empire" impersonation and sign every single free agent, the Marlins might as well retro-fit their plans to include last year's top free agent as well.
Literally every top free agent has been approached to don the curious new logo and play in the sweltering summer heat of Miami so you'd have to imagine that the Marlins would leave no stone unturned to build an All-Star team.
With the Marlins' Hanley Ramirez being even more disgruntled than usual with the Jose Reyes signing, a swap of these two underachievers would make sense. Boston would have to provide some salary relief, but they could get their sorely needed shortstop while the Marlins get another step closer the world domination—queue the evil laugh.
Traditionally the Cleveland Indians have been notorious sellers. To the ire of fans, CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez were the big names that have been traded by the Indians in the last half-decade.
Perhaps the increased attendance from the Cleveland Indians' hot start or maybe the shift of the front office caused the Indians to abandon their miserly ways, because over the last six months they've been extremely active.
While picking up Crawford's enormous salary is still very un-Indian like, they are in dire need of an outfielder. The Indians got out of the Josh Willingham bidding early when they found out what his price tag would be and have clearly stated that they'll be looking to make some deals.
The Red Sox would need to pick up some of Crawford's salary for any deal to work, but coupled with Grady Sizemore, the Indians would have two of the best outfielders in the game.
Well, at least in 2008 they would have.
Expected to compete, the 2011 Reds team faltered and failed to play much meaningful baseball last season.
Perhaps not sold on Chris Heisey as the answer in left field, the Reds are another team that has been linked to Josh Willingham. With the potential losses of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder in the NL Central, now might be the best time for the third best team in the division to strike.
While their lineup is already solid, Crawford would add a dynamic that the Reds lack: speed. Their 97 stolen bases ranked near the bottom in the majors.
Despite his career low in stolen bases last season, Crawford has averaged over 42 stolen bases per season in his career.
After winning the World Series in 2010, the Giants failed to make the playoffs in 2011.
They stuck around for a while, but were ultimately outperformed and eliminated by the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks, who don't appear to be ready to relinquish the NL West title for awhile.
Pagan and Cabrera help solidify a dreadful 2011 outfield and picking up Crawford would definitely move them up another notch, helping to provide insurance for former top prospects Brandon Belt and Nate Schierholtz.
Maybe it's time to go home.
Crawford was the face of the franchise in Tampa before departing for the division rival Red Sox in 2011. Despite the loss, the Rays still managed to do something the Red Sox didn't: make the playoffs.
There might not be much room in the Rays outfield with Desmond Jennings, BJ Upton, Matt Joyce and Sam Fuld all key contributors, but a move for Crawford could allow the Rays to move the disappointing Upton, who could still fetch a high price.
The best benefit of a return of Crawford would be the effect it may have on the sparse fan base, as any reason to get them excited wouldn't hurt the Herculean effort of filling the stands at Tropicana Field.