Ken Rosenthal has heard from his sources that the Red Sox are "gauging interest" in a possible trade involving highly-paid outfielder Carl Crawford.
On the surface it sounds like big News. While Carl's disappointing 2011 hasn't exactly made him a hero in Boston, he's still a marquee name with a massive contract that would make any deal involving him a headliner. Given his past performances, he may even be a pretty good baseball player.
So why is it this not only not big news, but hardly news at all? Because of the teams involved.
The specific names mentioned in Rosenthal's piece are the Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers. These are two teams with something in common: they're out to spend money.
With the construction of their new stadium, the Miami Marlins have done their best to shed their negative reputation as penny-pinchers and perpetual sellers in the offseason, buying Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell. They even pushed hard for Albert Pujols before the game's leading slugger took his talents to Los Angeles.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, have the benefit of new ownership. With Magic Johnson having openly admitted his desire for the Dodgers to be like the Yankees and commented almost covetously on the big free agent deals handed out to the likes of Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols over the offseason, it's clear that the Dodgers are out to make their team better even at great financial cost.
So what is Crawford? What is it the Red Sox are doing here? They're offering up a $20 million free agent in the summer.
Rosenthal speculates at trades involving Hanley Ramirez or Jose Reyes, but at least in my mind that's not specifically what's happening here. Instead, the Sox are exploring every option with an interesting commodity they have in the form of Crawford. He's a guy whose contract isn't exactly appealing anymore despite being a top free agent when he was signed just one year ago. It's a contract that most of baseball understands the Sox would be alright dumping onto someone else if they were willing to take it.
The Red Sox are just looking into whether or not there's someone out there actually interested, which isn't quite as ridiculous as it sounds. Like the Nationals with Jayson Werth in the same offseason, the Marlins might be the sort of club willing to overpay for reputation, and both teams would like to revive flagging campaigns started with significant expectations.
Really, it's the same thing every team does in August when they put everyone on waivers and see if anyone out there is interested. Just more targeted given the time frame. It's not an indicator that the Sox are determined to move him any more than putting Pedroia on waivers to see if the Angels are going to go temporarily insane and send us Trout and Weaver for him.
Is it likely anything comes of this? No. Even given the fact that Carl Crawford's reputation is not nearly so low in the baseball world as it is in Boston, after 2011 nobody is likely to make a deal for that contract that the Red Sox would be interested in. If something does, it could well be one of those trades Rosenthal was talking about involving other questionable contracts.
For now, though, it's just the Sox doing due diligence the same as they do for just about every player in every situation. The real concern is that Carl, who has blamed the organization's lack of faith for some of his 2011 woes, won't read too much into this and let it get him down after a strong start to his return.