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Giants should follow Blue Jays lead, release Brandon Crawford

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 21: Brandon Crawford #35 of the San Francisco Giants hits an rbi single scoring Brandon Belt #9 against the San Diego Padres in the bottom of the first inning at AT&T Park on July 21, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 21: Brandon Crawford #35 of the San Francisco Giants hits an rbi single scoring Brandon Belt #9 against the San Diego Padres in the bottom of the first inning at AT&T Park on July 21, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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With a change in San Francisco Giants management, Brandon Crawford is no longer a lock to be the everyday shortstop. Is simply releasing him a possibility?

It’s easy to see why San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy felt compelled to pencil Brandon Crawford into the starting lineup on an everyday basis in 2019.

The longtime shortstop was a key contributor during the team’s 2012 and 2014 World Series runs when Bochy was at the helm, and his $15.2 million salary made him the fifth-highest paid player on the roster.

Unfortunately, the Giants got very little bang for their buck.

The 32-year-old hit a brutal .228/.304/.350 for a 75 OPS+ over 560 plate appearances, meaning he produced at a level 25 percent below the league-average performer.

To put that into better context, among the 135 players who tallied enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title in 2019, only Orlando Arcia (64 OPS+), Yolmer Sanchez (73 OPS+) and Mallex Smith (74 OPS+) finished the season with a lower OPS+.

Even at his offensive peak, Crawford was always better known for his defensive prowess.

However, it seems that too is trending in the wrong direction.

Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) is a good sweeping assessment of a player’s defensive contributions. Here’s a look at Crawford’s DRS total from the past five seasons:

  • 2015: 20 DRS
  • 2016: 20 DRS
  • 2017: 9 DRS
  • 2018: 6 DRS
  • 2019: 0 DRS

Finishing with 0 DRS means Crawford was essentially an average shortstop, and while there’s value in playing average defense at a premium position, his complete lack of offensive contributions and exorbitant salary made him a negative value player overall.

So where does that leave the San Francisco Giants?

Crawford is signed for two more seasons and set to earn another $30.4 million, so trading him will be next to impossible.

As the roster currently stands, the team’s best middle infield alignment would seemingly be Donovan Solano at second base and Mauricio Dubon at shortstop, and there are plenty of intriguing options on the free-agent market like Jonathan Schoop and Brian Dozier who would add some much-needed power to the lineup if the Giants could find a way to rid themselves of Crawford.

Hot take: The Giants should release Brandon Crawford and just eat that $30.4 million.

At this point, he’s an offensive drain and an average defender, so rather than having him sap playing time from more productive players for the sake of trying to get something out of his salary, the Giants should simply cut ties.

It’s a lot of money to eat, but it’s a sunk cost anyway, and it would allow for far more flexibility this offseason.

Such a move would not be unprecedented.

Just last offseason, the Toronto Blue Jays released Troy Tulowitzki with two years and $38 million remaining on his contract.

They signed Freddy Galvis to a one-year, $5 million deal to serve as a stopgap and then turned things over to top prospect Bo Bichette in the second half.

It’s a move that would have been unthinkable under the previous Giants front-office regime, but with Farhan Zaidi now calling the shots and a new manager set to take control in the dugout, it’s not out of the realm of possibility by any means.

It would be an unceremonious end to Crawford’s time in San Francisco, but we saw a similar end to the Joe Panik era over the summer, so there’s some precedent there as well.

Next. 2010s All-Decade Team

Change is coming for the San Francisco Giants this offseason, and cutting ties with an overpaid, underperforming holdover from the title-winning teams might be in the club’s best interest moving forward.

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