The San Francisco Giants are interested in working out a long-term extension with shortstop Brandon Crawford, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required). Crawford, 28, is entering his second year of arbitration. He made $3.175 million last year, and MLB Trade Rumors projects that he will make $5.7 million in 2016.
A sizable raise is very plausible after the season that Crawford had. His reputation was as a defense-first shortstop, without much in terms of a bat, but he has improved year after year. In addition to winning a Gold Glove, Crawford improved with the bat once again.
In 2015, Crawford slashed .256/.321/.462 with 21 home runs in 561 plate appearances. His batting average and on-base percentage were only slight increases, but he showed much-improved power. Entering the 2015 season, Crawford had a career slugging percentage of .359 and only 27 career home runs. Combine this new found power with his defense, and Crawford posted a 4.7fWAR. That number was only beaten by 23 players in all of baseball last season.
A potential deal for Crawford is interesting to look at. Shortstops with similar service time to Crawford have historically signed short-term deals to cover the rest of their arbitration. The only exceptions are Troy Tulowitzki and Elvis Andrus, and Crawford doesn't have numbers near those two. Instead the Giants could be looking for a four-year deal, covering the last two years of Crawford's arbitration and two years of free agency.
The Giants have three shortstops in their top tier of prospects (Christian Arroyo, Lucius Fox and Jalen Miller). All three of those are under 20 and aren't close to impacting the major league club.
These talks probably won't pick up any traction until the Giants are done with their free agent shopping, but the time appears right for the Giants to try and work out a long term deal with Crawford. They have payroll flexibility, and no real big dollars that they need to spend right now. San Francisco may want to get Crawford locked up now, before he has another good year and earns himself even more money.