Crawford wants to stay with Rays

Crawford wants to stay with Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- Despite falling short of back-to-back postseason berths, Carl Crawford likes the direction the Rays are headed in, and he wants to come back -- long-term.

The three-time All-Star has a $10 million club option for next season that will likely be picked up, but he said Wednesday that he'd be open to negotiating another long-term deal with Tampa Bay this offseason.

Crawford originally signed a four-year, $15.25 million deal in 2005, along with two club options. But that final option expires after next season, and Crawford would prefer not to have to worry about going into free agency after the '10 season.

"[It's] just something extra to worry about that you really don't need in baseball, because you have so much stuff to worry about as it is," said Crawford, adding that he only wants to talk about it in the offseason and not during the '10 campaign. "It'd just be nice to not have to worry about extra stuff.

"In the offseason, yeah, I'd be open to whatever they're open to. They know that, it's not a secret. I just really hope something happens."

Crawford, a second-round Draft pick in 1999, has been with the Rays since '02 and experienced some of the most miserable seasons record-wise. But the run to the World Series last year provided a lot of hope for this once-struggling franchise, and now, Crawford doesn't see them going back to their old ways.

"I don't think it will ever go back to being as bad as it was," he said. "I think that's impossible. That's like one of those things that happens once every blue moon. But I think the organization is definitely headed in the right direction, and I'd like to be a part of that.

After homering in Wednesday's 5-3 win, Crawford is batting .307 with 15 home runs, 68 RBIs and a career-high 51 walks. On Tuesday, he topped his own franchise record with his 60th stolen base of the season.

Joe Maddon has said he feels this could be Crawford's best season, and hearing his All-Star left fielder wants to be a part of his club for the long-term is music to his ears.

"It's very gratifying, and we feel the same way," the Rays' skipper said. "It's great to hear that people want to be here now.

"Carl has been pretty much the face of the organization for years, and right now, arguably having his best season."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.