Angels to land Carl Crawford?

Updated: December 8, 2010, 7:27 PM ET
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Two sources close to Carl Crawford said it's likely the free-agent outfielder will eventually sign with the Los Angeles Angels.

Multiple high-ranking baseball sources said Wednesday that they expect Crawford will end up in Anaheim.

A former teammate of Crawford's with Tampa Bay, Carlos Pena, who signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Chicago Cubs Tuesday, said he has stayed in touch with Crawford during the free-agency period.

"The teams that move the most money and show how much they're willing to invest in him, that they'll put themselves on the line, will draw the most interest from him," Pena said. "Whoever does that is going to get an incredible player and one of the hardest workers in the game. I have as much respect for Carl as anyone."

Crawford met with New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman Tuesday night over dinner, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney.

The Yankees think they could have room in their budget to sign both left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee and outfielder Crawford, a baseball official with knowledge of the Yankees' plans told ESPNNewYork.com.

The Angels also have inquired about Lee, but general manager Tony Reagins intimated Wednesday that the left-hander is not a top priority for a team that slipped from second to 19th in the major leagues in runs scored last year.

"Pitching for us is a strength, especially starting pitching," Reagins said.

The Rangers also have talked with Crawford's agent and have some interest in the outfielder, a source told ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett. It's likely that Crawford would be a backup plan should the Rangers fail to land Lee. Sources told ESPNLosAngeles.com that Crawford would prefer to play in a warm-weather city.

Multiple sources who have been in contact with the Angels' front office told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that 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, the source said with a laugh, "it was almost like he was already on their team."

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.

In the meantime, the Angels might be forced to decide on another potential target, third baseman Adrian Beltre. Agent Scott Boras, who represents Beltre, said talks are warming up with a number of teams and said there is mutual interest between his client and the Angels.

It's doubtful the Angels could afford to acquire both Crawford, who figures to command at least a six-year, nine-figure deal, and Beltre, who reportedly turned down a five-year, $64 million offer from the Oakland A's.

"Obviously, Adrian has a home in L.A. and has played in L.A. and he's very comfortable with the marketplace," Boras said.

However, a baseball source familiar with the frosty relationship between Boras and Angels owner Arte Moreno said this of the team's likelihood of signing Beltre: "Trust me, that isn't happening."

The Angels could have competition within their division for Beltre. Boras said Beltre would be willing to reopen discussions with the A's.

"Offers are like curtains," Boras said. "There's opening and closing, but they're still in the room."

Mark Saxon covers the Angels for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand, ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark and ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett was used in this report.

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

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