By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) The Cubs are in need of an outfielder, left-handed hitting and a speedster who can lead off and get on base. The Dodgers' Carl Crawford may be the answer to all of those missing areas in one package.
As the offseason comes into full swing, Los Angeles must move an outfielder from its convoluted mix of highly paid, egocentric players they have in the mix that also includes Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Crawford is a leading candidate to be moved, depending on how much the Dodgers get back for him and how much of the three years and $63 million they will be willing to eat in a trade. Crawford has been injury-prone in the last three seasons, missing 234 games in that stretch, including 131 in 2012.
The 33-year-old Crawford already has several connections to the Cubs. He played for six years under new manager Joe Maddon in Tampa and was signed by president of baseball operations Theo Epstein in Boston to a seven-year, $142-million contract in 2010, so a deal with the Cubs could make sense. Crawford's ability to lead off and get on base is a major need for Chicago,which needs top-of-the-lineup hitters to set up its young sluggers for RBI opportunities.
Crawford has a lifetime .332 on-base percentage. After Emilio Bonifacio was traded this past season, the Cubs' top two hitters in the lineup had on-base percentage under .250 when Arismendy Alcantra and Javier Baez batted one-two.
Crawford is an average outfielder with a well-below average arm, even for the left field position, and questions remain.
"Does he always play through injury? Not really," an MLB source who has watched him play over the years said. "He likes to play, but his pride won't always let him go out there unless he is close to 100 percent physically."
The Dodgers are said to need young catching and a stop-gap shortstop, both with modest contracts and player control built in. It appears Crawford has a few good years left in the field, as he hit .300 in 2014 with an on-base of .339. His speed still has impact on the bases, where he stole 23 bags in 29 attempts.
The Cubs stole 65 bases in 105 chances as a team, the worst steal percentage in baseball last season. Only the departed Bonifacio swiped double-digit bags, going 14-of-20. The rest of the 2014 roster went 51-of-85 in stolen base attempts.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.
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