Crawford's contract a reward for steady rise

Crawford's contract a reward for steady rise

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford proved how he earned his long, lucrative contract at almost the instant he received it.

Crawford's agent, Joel Wolfe, telephoned his client in mid-afternoon Tuesday to inform him that the six-year, $75 million deal was done. Instead of hearing whooping and hollering on the other end of the line, Wolfe was treated to Crawford speaking in his usual subdued tone.

As Wolfe related, Crawford informed him, "Sorry, I can't talk. I'm in the weight room."

That industrious attitude helped Crawford amass tangible evidence of his skill this season, including his first All-Star appearance and his initial Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.

MLB Tonight: Brandon Crawford

"He's arguably the best shortstop in baseball," said Brian Sabean, Giants executive vice president of baseball operations, at a Wednesday news conference held at AT&T Park to trumpet Crawford's contract.

"I plan on at least three more World Series rings," Crawford said, referring to his contract's duration and the Giants' ability to win it all during the last three even-numbered years.

The gathering might have been more motivational than informational. Members of the media were joined by about two dozen of San Francisco's selections from the 2015 Draft and a handful of undrafted free-agent signees. They witnessed first-hand the reward of succeeding in the big leagues. They saw the pomp and circumstance that accompanies an eight-figure deal and they watched Giants manager Bruce Bochy turn to Crawford on the dais and say, "I hate to play on words here, but it's richly deserved."

Crawford wins Silver Slugger

Sabean said Crawford, 28, "exemplifies what we're looking for in players." Sabean explained by pointing out that "player development never stops. ... If the player gets that, uses that as a weapon, I think you've seen all our players who have come here at a young age much like Brandon improve in front of your eyes. That's not only good for the organization; that's what Major League Baseball's about. It's supposed to be a continuum. It's not supposed to be, you get to one level and that's your baseball card."

In fact, Crawford has increased his home run total from nine in 2013, 10 in 2014 to a team-high 21 this year. He led Major League shortstops with 84 RBIs, up from 69 in 2014 and 43 in 2013. Crawford's slugging percentage has risen annually, from .296 as a rookie in 2011 to .349, .363 and .389 before reaching .462 this season.

A lifelong Giants fan, Crawford didn't have to be coerced into forgoing his final two years of salary-arbitration eligibility and his first four years of free agency by signing the contract. But he acknowledged the no-trade clause was "one of the biggest parts" of the deal, since it guaranteed a "sense of security" -- not just for him, but also for his wife, Jalynne, and their two daughters.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.