Rays exec says Carl Crawford is staying through end of contract

Rays vice president Andrew Friedman tells ESPN he expects left fielder Carl Crawford will remain with the club all season.

Friedman made the claim in response to a question by Dan Schulman while being interviewed during tonight’s Rays-Red Sox broadcast.

"I feel very strongly we’re going to have a lot of staying power (this season), We have a lot of respect for how long the season is, but we feel like we have the depth and the talent on hand to compete throughout the year, and obviously we’re a much better team with Carl than without him," Friedman said.

Crawford is in the final season of his contract and there has been much speculation about whether the Rays would be able to re-sign him. Many people concluded that Tampa Bay would deal him if it fell out of contention this season, but the Rays have the majors’ best record at 32-12.

Tampa Bay has an almost-ready replacement for Crawford in Desmond Jennings, who is playing for Triple-A Durham.

"He’s tremendously talented," Friedman said of Jennings, who was Tampa Bay’s minor league Player of the Year in 2009. "He’s a very, very good defensive outfielder, runs the bases very well, works an extremely good at-bat, real good contact skills. He has a chance to really impact us for a lot of years."

One knock on Jennings has been his injury history; he missed the start of Durham’s season after hurting his wrist in spring training, then suffered a shoulder injury.

Rays vice president Andrew Friedman tells ESPN he expects left fielder Carl Crawford will remain with the club all season.

Friedman made the claim in response to a question by Dan Schulman while being interviewed during tonight’s Rays-Red Sox broadcast.

"I feel very strongly we’re going to have a lot of staying power (this season), We have a lot of respect for how long the season is, but we feel like we have the depth and the talent on hand to compete throughout the year, and obviously we’re a much better team with Carl than without him," Friedman said.

Crawford is in the final season of his contract and there has been much speculation about whether the Rays would be able to re-sign him. Many people concluded that Tampa Bay would deal him if it fell out of contention this season, but the Rays have the majors’ best record at 32-12.

Tampa Bay has an almost-ready replacement for Crawford in Desmond Jennings, who is playing for Triple-A Durham.

"He’s tremendously talented," Friedman said of Jennings, who was Tampa Bay’s minor league Player of the Year in 2009. "He’s a very, very good defensive outfielder, runs the bases very well, works an extremely good at-bat, real good contact skills. He has a chance to really impact us for a lot of years."

One knock on Jennings has been his injury history; he missed the start of Durham’s season after hurting his wrist in spring training, then suffered a shoulder injury.

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