SAN FRANCISCO — When Brandon Crawford’s deal was finally made official Tuesday afternoon, his agent, Joel Wolfe, called to give him the good news. Wolfe joked that he thought he might reach Crawford at a Bentley dealership. Instead, Crawford told his agent he was busy and didn’t have much time to talk.
“He was in the weight room,” Wolfe said.
Crawford’s first act of business as a $75-million man was to make sure he's ready to live up to that deal. It's that commitment and work ethic that made this six-year contract such a no-brainer for Giants management.
“The best thing I can say about this young man is that he’s as good a person off the field as on,” Giants executive vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean said. “He’s exceeded a lot of expectations, but we shouldn't be surprised because of his hard work and his diligence.”
Crawford signed his deal on the heels of a career year. He was an All-Star for the first time and won his first Gold Glove Award and Silver Slugger Award. It was a breakout Sabean, general manager Bobby Evans and manager Bruce Bochy had long hoped for. Evans knew he had a special player on his hands when Crawford, after getting drafted in 2008, asked to go right to the Dominican League to get extra at-bats.
Evans and Wolfe first touched base on an extension last spring, but they were never close and tabled talks until after the season. The GM had extra time on his hands in October as he waited for the start of free agency, and again he talked with Wolfe and Crawford, who has always been extremely hands-on when it comes to his contracts.
The sticking point for Crawford was a no-trade clause, and a deal likely would not have gotten done without one. The Giants put no-trade clauses in long-term deals for Buster Posey and Matt Cain, and Crawford — who grew up dreaming about playing for the organization — wanted the same assurance that he would remain a Giant. He shares an agent with Chase Utley and saw firsthand over the summer how Utley, the longtime Phillies star, was able to have more control over his final destination because he could veto deals. Crawford hoped to get a contract that would make him a Giant for life, but the no-trade clause made six years the max for the Giants, and they ultimately struck an agreement to keep their shortstop through his age-34 season.
Crawford will get a $1.2 million signing bonus, $5.8 million in 2016 (which would have been his second arbitration year), $8 million in 2017 and $15 million each of the next four years. This deal amounts to the Giants buying out Crawford's arbitration years and then giving him a four-year, $60 million extension. It includes award bonuses.
“Growing up a Giants fan, I thought it was a dream come true just to get drafted by this organization,” Crawford said. “To have the opportunity to play in the big leagues and win a couple of World Series during that time, I really didn’t think it could get a whole lot better. I think that made the decision pretty easy to stay with this team and this organization for the next six years. I don't think there’s anywhere else I’d rather play.”
The contract comes a few days after Crawford was named the best defensive and offensive shortstop in the National League.
“It’s been a good week,” he said, smiling.
Bochy said it’s nice to have a sense of comfort as a manager and know that shortstop is taken care of. He repeatedly called Crawford “a winner.”
“He prepares like a winner and performs like a winner,” Bochy said. “I just love the way he prepares every day. It’s good news, and I know the players are going to be happy that their DJ is here for another six years.”
The Giants intend on making that point to free agent pitchers. A Gold Glove shortstop is locked up and Brandon Belt, the Gold Glove finalist at first, could be next to get a deal. Matt Duffy, also a Gold Glove finalist, and Joe Panik aren’t even arbitration eligible yet. Crawford said he talked to Buster Posey after signing the deal and the two are thrilled that they’ll play at least a decade together by the time this deal runs its course.
The Giants moved quickly in taking advantage of Crawford’s new deal. He gave a speech to minor leaguers who are in town for a conditioning camp and have been encouraged to follow Crawford’s lead. Sabean said he’s a player who “has work ethic that’s professional but not ‘look at me.’”
Crawford said he hopes to have many of the top prospects join him at AT&T Park.
“I’ll be here the next six years,” he said. “I plan on at least three World Series rings.”