Sources: Carl Crawford L.A.'s priority

Updated: December 8, 2010, 1:59 AM ET
By Jayson Stark | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- If Carl Crawford's latest contract demands have scared off the Angels, there was no sign of it Tuesday at the winter meetings.

According to multiple sources who have been in contact with the Angels front office, Crawford remains the team's No. 1 offseason priority -- by far.

One source described Crawford as the clear "focal point" of the Angels. Another source said that after talking with the Angels' people, he was stunned by how confident they were about eventually signing Crawford.

The way they spoke of him, that source said with a laugh, "it was almost like he was already on their team."

The Angels do have other lines in the offseason waters -- most notably on free-agent closer Rafael Soriano. The Angels are even in the Cliff Lee hunt, a source told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. But when one of the sources was asked about his perception of where the Angels stood on other players, he replied:

"Anything else is a distant second after Crawford."

What remains unclear, however, is how far the Angels are willing to extend themselves financially to keep Crawford away from the Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers and Rangers -- the other clubs still viewed as the main contenders for Crawford.

If the price escalates, in the wake of Jayson Werth's seven-year, $126-million deal with Washington, to eight years and $160 million or beyond, that would be three years longer and at least $70 million more than current Angels owner Arte Moreno has ever paid for any player.

Torii Hunter's five-year, $90-million contract three years ago is the highest-paid Angel of the Moreno era. And, as one of the sources put it, "is Carl Crawford really worth $70 million more than Torii Hunter? I don't see that."

But two years ago, the Angels did offer Mark Teixeira seven years, $160 million before he signed with the Yankees. And that's an offer that Crawford's agents, Greg Genske and Brian Peters, are clearly well aware of.

The exact number of years and dollars Crawford is seeking hasn't been established yet. So for now, said an official of one team involved, "we've just got to let this play out a little bit."

It's now viewed as unlikely that Crawford will sign with any team before the winter meetings conclude.

Jayson Stark is a senior baseball writer for ESPN.com.

Jayson Stark | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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