Brandon Crawford grew up in Pleasanton as a Giants fan and said being drafted by his favorite team was “a dream come true.” He then went on to become the Giants’ everyday shortstop and win two World Series rings before the age of 28.
“I really didn’t think it could get a whole lot better,” Crawford said.
And then came the past couple of weeks. To start, Crawford won his first Gold Glove Award, an honor the defensive-minded shortstop has long coveted. The Silver Slugger Award for a breakout offensive season followed soon after. And on Tuesday, the Giants announced they had signed Crawford to a six-year, $75 million deal that will keep the the Bay Area native in San Francisco through at least 2021.
“It’s been a good week, week and a half,” Crawford said at a news conference at AT&T Park on Wednesday. “I don’t think there’s anywhere else I’d rather play.”
That made the full no-trade clause included in the deal particularly important, Crawford said. Teams can be reluctant to agree to a no-trade provision in contracts of such length, and Crawford’s agent, Joel Wolfe, acknowledged that securing it “didn’t come easy.” But the Giants had a precedent of offering no-trade clauses to Buster Posey and Matt Cain, and Crawford over the summer had seen how infielder Chase Utley – another client of Wolfe’s – had used his no-trade clause to control where he was moved by the Phillies.
Talks about a long-term deal between the Giants and Crawford’s camp started early this spring, went quiet during the season and then ramped back up recently at the general manager meetings in Florida. Wolfe said Crawford was able to help his own cause with his all-around 2015 season, and that his performance likely helped convince the Giants to agree to the no-trade clause, without which reaching a deal “would’ve been tough.”
“I think that was probably one of the biggest parts of the contract for me, just knowing that I’m going to be with the Giants for the next six years,” Crawford said. “Just to have that sense of security that I’m going to be here, my family’s going to be here in the Bay Area, was a huge part of that contract.”
Crawford said he had already talked to Posey about the likelihood the two players will be together in San Francisco for the next six years, making it a full decade as teammates in Giants uniforms. The prospect excites Giants brass as well, who were happy to lock up the 28-year-old for his final two years of arbitration and first four seasons of free agency.
“It’s always a good day when you sign your shortstop who just made the All-Star team and got a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. “It’s nice to have that sense of comfort knowing that we have a guy like Brandon, who’s so gifted.”
“Arguably he’s the best shortstop in baseball,” said Giants vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean. “We’re proud to have him as our shortstop.”
Crawford this season became the first Giants player since Barry Bonds in 1997 to win both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards in the same season. He recorded a .256/.321/.426 slash line while setting career bests in home runs (21), RBIs (84), doubles (33) and runs scored (65), and led all major-league shortstops with a 4.7 WAR.
Crawford said he believes he can improve on those numbers, and the Giants are confident that he’ll put in the work. Wolfe said that when the deal became official Tuesday after it was confirmed Crawford had passed his physical, he called Crawford to congratulate him. Crawford told his agent he couldn’t talk at the moment – he was in the weight room.
“The guy wants to win,” Wolfe said. “He’s a killer. You don’t see it necessarily in his demeanor, but it’s there.”
The Giants value both Crawford’s work ethic and his understated demeanor, which fits with the kind of clubhouse atmosphere they try to create.
“The best thing I can say about this young man is he’s as good a person off the field as he is on, and that makes him a hell of a player,” Sabean said. “He’s exceeded a lot of expectations, but we shouldn’t be surprised because of his hard work and diligence.
“He exemplifies what we’re looking for in players. His security now going forward is great not only for his family, but our fan base. He’s a fan favorite and should be. Love what he brings to the table, and look forward to him being a major piece in our future.”
Some other potential pieces of the Giants’ future were in the room for the Crawford news conference Wednesday – two dozen of the Giants’ minor leaguers, in San Francisco for a strength and conditioning camp. While Crawford and Bochy addressed the group after the news conference, Giants general manager Bobby Evans recounted for reporters a story of how Crawford, shortly after signing with the Giants out of college, requested he be sent to the Dominican Republic to get at-bats and accelerate his development.
“Just the hunger that Brandon has,” Evans said, “is the hunger that we want these guys to have.”
Crawford, meanwhile, was asked what advice he’d give to the minor leaguers. Part of his answer was to, “Get up here (to the majors) quick.”
“I’ll be here for the next six years, so I plan on at least three (more) World Series rings,” Crawford said, grinning. “That’ll be three more even years. So get up here and get one of these things.”