Seattle signed shortstop JP Crawford to a new five-year contract, tying a vital member of the rising Mariners to the organization during its early years,
Sources close to the deal told ESPN the total contract value is $51 million.
“I love Seattle. I’ve loved it since I first put on this jersey,” Crawford said ahead of the Mariners’ season opener against the Minnesota Twins. “Since then, I really wanted to stay here, so I’m very happy about this opportunity.”
Crawford, 27, has become one of baseball’s best defensive shortstops and a go-to for the Mariners, who narrowly missed the playoffs last year and expect to fight back in the American League. West for the foreseeable future.
He could drop lower in the batting order this season after Seattle acquired Adam Frazier in the offseason. Crawford was eighth at bat in Game 1 against Minnesota.
Since its 2019 acquisition of the Philadelphia Phillies, where Crawford burst in as a highly touted prospect, Seattle has seen him as its shortstop of the future. The commitment in the agreement, which runs until 2026, speaks to this.
“JP brings excellent defense to a critical position, in addition to strong on-base skills and a penchant for delivering in the big moment,” Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto said in a statement. “He’s an incredibly competitive player who has become an integral part of our team, both on the pitch and at the clubhouse.”
The Mariners bought out two years of free agency with the contract, which will pay Crawford $5 million this year – slightly more than the $4.85 million he was previously expected to earn – and includes a signing bonus of $5 million, sources said. Crawford owes $10 million a year from 2023 to 2025 before receiving $11 million in the final season of the deal.
Even before contract talks began, Crawford was reassured by Dipoto and the front office that they were in their future plans as the team’s shortstop after Seattle opted not to pursue any major free agents in this position during the offseason.
“That says a lot about trust, and I want to thank you for trusting me,” Crawford said. “It’s my team. It’s permanent now, and I’m ready to lead these guys.”
Crawford said he was at a career low point near the end of his time in Philadelphia. After arriving in Seattle, he received helpful advice from veteran Dee Strange-Gordon to help him start his recovery.
“He took me under his wing and showed me how to really love baseball again,” Crawford said. “He showed me the passion for it again, and he just taught me how to have fun again.”
With limited long-term deals on the books, the Mariners have significant financial flexibility as they look to build on 2021. They will start the season with Julio Rodriguez, among the game’s most touted prospects, on their opening list; and the additions of defending AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray and slugger Jesse Winker, along with a full season of right-handed pitcher Logan Gilbert, made the Mariners a fashionable pick capable of winning their first World Series. .
Crawford contributed to the turnaround in 2021, batting .273/.338/.376 with 46 extra hits and playing outstanding defense a year after winning a Gold Glove. While his strikeout rate has climbed over the past year, his keen eye on the plate and solid bat-to-ball skills make up for a relative lack of power.
With Rodriguez, Winker, Jarred Kelenic, Mitch Haniger, Ty France and others, the Mariners don’t necessarily need to depend on Crawford’s bat. But an offensive uptick is possible, with Crawford’s nine homers last season representing a career high.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.