J.P. Crawford, Mariners agree to 5-year extension

April 8th, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jerry Dipoto said all offseason that J.P. Crawford would be the Mariners’ shortstop now and of the future, and on Friday, the club’s president of baseball operations put financial backing to that commitment.

Seattle announced that it signed Crawford to a five-year, $51 million extension that begins this year and buys out the rest of his arbitration years and two free-agent years, tacked on with a $5 million signing bonus. Here’s a breakdown of the dollars, according to sources:

2022: $5 million
2023-25: $10 million
2026: $11 million
Signing bonus: $5 million

Crawford had recently settled on a $4.85 million deal to avoid arbitration for ‘22, and this deal will replace those terms.

“I love Seattle,” Crawford said. “I've loved it ever since I put on the jersey for the first time and really wanted to stay here ever since then. So, I'm really happy for this opportunity.”

The deal came together during the thick of Spring Training, once the lockout lifted and after the Mariners addressed their notable roster voids by adding Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez.

“When we finally got to this moment, we knew it wouldn't take very long to negotiate the actual numbers,” Dipoto said. “That part was going to be the easiest part. It's just finding out if the player is interested in spending the bulk of the rest of his career, if not the rest of his career here, and for J.P., that was an easy answer.”

Crawford is coming off an impressive ‘21 in which he hit .273/.338/.376 (.715 OPS) for a 103 wRC+ (league average is 100) and was worth 3.1 wins above replacement, per FanGraphs, trailing only team MVP Ty France.

That production flirted with an All-Star bid, emerging as the Mariners’ Iron Man, having played in all but two of the club’s 162 games. It was a breakout of sorts given that he won the Gold Glove Award at shortstop in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and hadn’t yet played a full year in The Show. Crawford was again a finalist for the award last year, which Houston’s Carlos Correa won.

Described as the “heart and soul” of the team by Mariners manager Scott Servais, Crawford has passionately embraced a leadership role among position players, particularly in light of Kyle Seager departing via free agency and then retirement last offseason.

“Kyle was the one who said to me first -- ‘J.P. is the new leader of this team,” said John Stanton, Mariners chairman and managing general partner. “And I think that J.P. is going to be a leader for us for a long time, and this agreement really solidifies that.”

When the Mariners courted high-profile free agents to play the infield this offseason, notably Trevor Story and Kris Bryant, they did so while reiterating that Crawford would remain at shortstop. Now, there are more than just words to back that declaration.

“It says a lot about trust,” Crawford said. “I just want to thank them for trusting me. This is my team. It is permanently now, and ready to lead these guys.”

For a club that last year was among the youngest in the American League, Crawford represents stability and longevity. He arrived in the 2018-19 offseason as part of the Jean Segura trade with the Phillies, one of many that kickstarted Seattle’s multiyear rebuild. Crawford has hinted at it in the three years since, but on Friday he vulnerably described that he was “in a really dark place,” mentally and emotionally.

The pressure of being a first-round Draft pick and being touted as high as the No. 5 prospect in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 weighed on him, particularly in a demanding sports market like Philadelphia. His defensive metrics were below average, and he hit .214/.333/.358 (.652 OPS) over parts of his first two seasons.

Crawford has long credited infield coaching guru Perry Hill for “saving my career,” and on Friday, he mentioned former Mariners second baseman Dee Strange-Gordon as a hugely influential mentor.

“You just see all the negativity around and it wears on you,” Crawford said. “Getting traded over here was a breath of fresh air, and I was able to get back on my feet and get in a good headspace. Getting traded was the best thing that's ever happened to me.”

With his wife, Kathy, in attendance, the newly-wed Crawford discussed how far he's come -- and how far he's ready to go.

"I'm on cloud nine," Crawford said. "Seriously, life can't be better. Everything's just falling into place, and the stars are aligning for us over here in Seattle. I can't wait to get going."