11:09am: The deal is official, according to a Royals press release.
10:23am: SI.com’s Jon Heyman confirms the deal.
10:02am: Red Sox exec Ben Cherington was on XM’s MLB Home Plate radio station recently. He says "the report is premature."
9:43am: MLB.com’s Jim Molony received a "no comment" from the Red Sox on McRae’s report. Royals exec Mike Arbuckle said Crisp is still under Red Sox control, while Kansas City Star writer Joe Posnanski says there’s something to the rumor.
8:48am: According to Brian McRae reporting for Sports Radio 810 in Kansas City, the Royals acquired Coco Crisp from the Red Sox for reliever Ramon Ramirez. I emailed McRae to confirm, and he said, "It’s a done deal." The Royals get speed and a capable center fielder, while the Red Sox receive a quality late-game reliever.
Crisp, 29, hit .283/.344/.407 in 409 plate appearances this year. His center field defense saved 26 bases over the average last year, but was two below this year (he did battle groin, hamstring, knee, and foot issues). Crisp will earn $5.75MM in ’09 and has an $8MM club option with a $500K buyout for ’10.
The Red Sox trim payroll here, as Ramirez is not yet arbitration-eligible. He will not reach free agency until after the 2012 season, so the Red Sox impressively acquired four years of his services. The 27 year-old posted a 2.64 ERA in 71.2 innings this year while whiffing 70. The Royals might have to add a reliever to compensate for his absence, though they’re now at their payroll limit. They’re also a bit heavy on outfielders at this point.