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Crawford sought Giant’s return, claiming he “didn’t want to return” to his new role

Crawford sought Giant’s return and claims he ‘didn’t want to return’ to the new role originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Longtime Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford wanted to return to the organization he called home for 13 seasons for the 2024 MLB season, but it appears the feeling wasn’t exactly mutual.

After signing a one-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, Crawford spoke exclusively with The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly about his decision to sign with St. Louis and why continuing his career with a team other than the Giants was not his preference. result.

“The bottom line is I didn’t want to go back because of the only person whose (opinion) matters,” Crawford told The Athletic, referring to Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. “So I went with a team that gave me a major league contract. The cardinals have a long history and tradition. I have admired and respected the way the Cardinals have played throughout my career and the way the organization is run.

“But the bottom line is, I wanted to go back to the Giants. That was of course the ideal situation for me.”

Crawford told The Athletic that he discussed a return to the Giants with Zaidi during an in-person meeting during November’s MLB General Managers Meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona, and made it clear that he was not looking for an everyday role and was willing to continue the mentor San Francisco’s young infielders like Marco Luciano, Casey Schmitt and Tyler Fitzgerald.

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“I had no playing time expectations,” Crawford told The Athletic. “Just help out and be a veteran mentor type for Luciano, Casey Schmitt, (Tyler) Fitzgerald, continue to be that guy for Thairo (Estrada), whoever else I could help in that capacity. I came to him with that.”

Zaidi’s lukewarm reception on Crawford’s field initially left the veteran shortstop wondering if the decision was personal, but he told The Athletic he was still hoping for a reunion later in the season when the Giants did not add any shortstop depth.

After the Cardinals made their contract offer, Crawford’s agent, Joel Wolfe, contacted Zaidi one last time about a potential contract for his client.

“I was told I could earn the last spot on the roster just like anyone else as a non-roster invitee,” Crawford explained to The Athletic. “That was the nail in the coffin.”

Zaidi, in a phone call with The Athletic, pushed back on the implication that personal animosity could have played a role in the Giants’ decision to part ways.

“He has been one of our most popular and important players and we negotiated a two-year extension with him (after his 2021 banner season), which everyone was very happy with,” Zaidi told The Athletic. “So any idea that there was concern about living together just doesn’t match the reality that we’ve both been here for the last five seasons and we’ve had some really great moments.

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“He has been an important member of this team and a real leader in the clubhouse as well.”

Zaidi confirmed Crawford’s willingness to play in a smaller, versatile role, but explained how the team wanted their young infielders to have the freedom to experience the highs and lows of an MLB season without a franchise icon in Crawford looming over their shoulders on the couch. .

Crawford explained to The Athletic that he understood where Zaidi was coming from, but said he didn’t want an everyday role, even though candidates like Luciano were struggling.

“With the whole ‘sitting over Luciano’s shoulder’ thing, I feel like I could have made it very publicly clear that that wasn’t the case,” Crawford said. “I don’t even want to play every day because physically I’m not sure if I could do that anymore, with how much pain I’ve been in over the years. The transition to a role player makes sense. So I think I could have navigated around that.

Crawford wanted to return to the Giants and was willing to take on a new role, even after his previous two seasons with the team, which included a frustrating lack of communication with previous manager Gabe Kapler’s staff.

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“A lot of it was injuries and not playing well, but some of it was … the lack of communication, not playing for three days in a row without a single word being spoken to me about it,” Crawford told The Athletic. “It just wasn’t a very nice environment. I loved the players. For the most part, we had a good clubhouse. But the way it went wasn’t very nice.

“When I think about my career in general, I would have been fine if I hadn’t gotten any offers. But at the same time, it wasn’t how I had imagined it to be over the years. I just imagined having a little more fun. So that played a role (in wanting to keep playing).”

A handful of Giants veterans, including starting pitcher Logan Webb, have appreciated the new culture and approach to the game that manager Bob Melvin and his coaching staff have brought to San Francisco.

Unfortunately for Crawford, he won’t see those changes, but he will likely look forward to facing his former team this season as a member of the Cardinals.

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