Coco Crisp Rumors

Billy Beane: Crisp, Doolittle Both “A Long Way Off”

Athletics GM Billy Beane gave a stark assessment of the timetables for both outfielder Coco Crisp and reliever Sean Doolittle in an appearance on 95.7 The Game (via SB Nation blog Athletics Nation).

“We have to be realistic that both Sean and Coco probably aren’t going to be playing a whole lot this year,” said Beane. “They could come back, maybe later but they’re a long way off and I think we have to keep that in mind with whatever we do.” As the post also notes, Doolittle’s own comments also indicated that he feels he could be in for a lengthy period of rebuilding strength and getting back to the hill.

While nothing has changed in these players circumstances, per se, the overall assessment is notable. Beane made clear that the club’s internal assessment is not promising regarding receiving much of a contribution from either player — at least not in time to impact the club’s AL-worst record before summer trade decisions must be made. And he will obviously be weighing that in deciding how to proceed.

Of course, it’s still too soon to label Oakland as a definite seller. They are within shouting distance of most of the division, and it remains to be seen whether the first-place Astros can continue to pace the American League. But it is notable that both Crisp and Doolittle play positions of clear need for the A’s, who have received the least production out of left field of any team in baseball while carrying the game’s very worst bullpen ERA (entering tonight’s action).


West Notes: Kazmir, Crisp, Saltalamacchia, Halos

The Athletics had somewhat of a scare yesterday when Scott Kazmir left his start in the third inning and underwent an MRI due to shoulder soreness, but MLB.com’s Jane Lee tweets that the injury isn’t serious. Kazmir’s MRI revealed no structural damage, and the left-hander is expected to miss only one start before rejoining the Oakland rotation. It’s good news for the A’s on multiple fronts, as a healthy Kazmir will either be a key to a theoretical turnaround of their season or a highly desirable trade chip come July.

Some more news from the game’s Western divisions…

  • News on Coco Crisp, however, isn’t as encouraging for the Athletics, writes Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area. Doctors have recommended that Crisp receive an epidural injection to attempt to alleviate the chronic pain in his neck. The center fielder will be shut down from baseball activities for the next month or so, according to manager Bob Melvin. That, as Stiglich notes, would mean that Crisp would likely be out past the All-Star break, as he wouldn’t resume baseball activities until late June or early July.
  • The D-Backs are planning to promote Jarrod Saltalamacchia from Triple-A Reno tomorrow, reports Steve Gilbert of MLB.com (via Twitter). Saltalamacchia signed a minor league pact with Arizona after being surprisingly designated for assignment and subsequently released by the struggling Marlins. Saltlamacchia has struggled some at Triple-A after a notable absence from playing in games — he was on paternity leave prior to his DFA, then waited 10 days before being released and another couple of days before signing — but he does have a pair of homers in nine games with Reno. The Diamondbacks will need to add Saltalamacchia to the 40-man roster before he can join the big league club.
  • The addition of Kirk Nieuwenhuis doesn’t figure to be the only trade the Angels will make in the coming months, as GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters, including Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times, that the search for offense will continue for the next few months. “We’ll be looking for the remainder of the trade season,” said Dipoto, whose team surprisingly ranks 26th in runs scored, 29th in OPS and 26th in wRC+. Dipoto specifically states that he’s not interested in trading the pitching depth he worked long and hard to acquire — presumably referring to Andrew Heaney, Nick Tropeano and Sean Newcomb. He also doesn’t sound like a GM ready to act rashly. “Quite frankly, you try to fix something now, you cost yourself pitching depth, and many different things that could happen along the way would tell you that was the wrong way to go,” he adds.

West Notes: Street, Crisp, Athletics, Dodgers

Angels closer Huston Street spoke with Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca about his decision to ink a mid-season extension. Though he ultimately handed off the job of negotiating that deal to agent Alan Hendricks, much of the groundwork was laid by Street himself. He says the process was enjoyable, but noted that he learned from mistakes in how things were relayed to the media this spring. Street spoke at length about the compromises struck to reach the deal, explaining the “interesting crossroad to be fascinated by the money but also to not be driven by it at all.”

  • Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp is still struggling with the same neck issues that bothered him last year, but Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (links to Twitter) that surgery is off the table. Normally, that’s a good thing, but in this case the issue is that a surgical solution would very likely end Crisp’s playing career. Ultimately, Crisp may need another DL stint but is expected to be able to play with the injury.
  • The Athletics are not interested in dealing catcher Stephen Vogt and are not moving now on pitcher Scott Kazmir, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com reports“I’m not trading Vogt,” said GM Billy Beane. “Period.” As for the veteran lefty Kazmir, Gammons writes that Beane and co. had intended to make him a qualifying offer but could ultimately consider a deal — though they’ve not yet had any action in that area.
  • From the same report, Gammons says that the Dodgers are generating plenty of interest in their younger players from clubs that have pitching to deal. The PhilliesReds, and Athletics, among other teams, are “scouring” the Los Angeles farm, per Gammons. The veteran journalist also adds that some other executives think that L.A. could potentially make a run at Cole Hamels by dangling interesting utilityman Enrique Hernandez, pitchers Zach Lee and Chris Anderson, and catcher Julian Leon to Philadelphia. While Gammons does not make clear whether his sources suggest that package would be enough, it certainly seems at face value that Philly would demand a headliner to top things off.


Heyman’s Latest: Hamels/Jays, Lucroy, Baez, Correa, Alvarez

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has published the latest installment of his weekly Inside Baseball column, and he kicks it off by reporting that the Blue Jays have inquired on Cole Hamels. However, Heyman hears that Hamels was unwilling to waive his no-trade clause to allow a trade to Toronto, which is a blow for both clubs. The Jays desperately need help in both the rotation and the bullpen, and the Phillies, Heyman notes, would love to get their hands on young pitchers with the upside of Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris. The Blue Jays have a bit of financial leeway after going with inexpensive options at second base, center field and left field, and Heyman writes that the Blue Jays are expected to look at other potential front-line starters this summer as they become available. (He speculatively mentions Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir, though neither’s available just yet.) Additionally, Heyman notes that Blue Jays manager John Gibbons’ job is safe, as GM Alex Anthopoulos has a strong relationship with the skipper and recognizes that the team’s problems are roster-related and shouldn’t be pinned on Gibbons.

Some more highlights from the column, though it’s worth a read in its entirety…

  • The Braves are said to be disappointed in the play of Christian Bethancourt, even from a defensive standpoint, and recently inquired with the Brewers on Jonathan Lucroy. However, Atlanta executives were told by the Brewers that Lucroy isn’t available at this time. That the Brewers wouldn’t trade Lucroy isn’t a shock; he’s owed a very affordable $4MM in 2016 with a $5.25MM option for the 2017 season, so even if the team can’t quickly right the ship, he’d still have enormous trade value at the 2016 trade deadline. More interesting, to me, is that the Braves would so quickly look for an upgrade over Bethancourt and that they’re acting somewhat as buyers. Lucroy, of course, could be called a long-term piece that would be around to help the team when its rebuild is closer to completion. However, acquiring him would surely require the sting of parting with some of the key components of that rebuild.
  • Some rival execs feel that the Cubs are willing to part with Javier Baez and Dan Vogelbach in trades, in part because each was drafted under the previous administration and is not held in as high a regard by the new front office. Each player comes with issues, however, as Baez is trying to cut down on his swing and improve his contact skills, while a scout described first baseman Vogelbach as a “30 fielder” to Heyman (in reference to the 20-80 scouting scale).
  • There are members of the Astros‘ field staff that want to see Carlos Correa with the team right now, but Houston will likely keep him in the minors for another month or so in order to lessen the risk of Correa achieving Super Two status. I’ll add that the Astros will have a more legitimate claim that Correa still needs minor league time than other teams in similar situations have had in the past. Correa is still just 20 years old and has only nine games of experience at the Triple-A level, though he’s continued his brilliant work at the plate there, hitting .326/.362/.558 with a pair of homers. Also of interest to Astros fans — or to fans of teams needing outfield help — the Astros are on the lookout for starting pitching upgrades, and outfield prospect Preston Tucker “seems to be available.” Tucker recently made his MLB debut and has a .963 OPS through 34 plate appearances to go along with a strong minor league track record.
  • Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez has been pitching for years with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, according to Heyman. Some have described it as a “90 percent tear,” but he’s been able to pitch effectively in spite of the issue. Alvarez wouldn’t be the first to pitch through a UCL tear; Ervin Santana and Adam Wainwright are both recent examples of pitchers who pitched for many seasons with partially torn UCLs. Wainwright ultimately underwent Tommy John, though Santana’s is said to have healed and is no longer an issue. In another Marlins-related note, Heyman hears that pitching coach Chuck Hernandez is “under the microscope” with both Jarred Cosart and Steve Cishek struggling greatly in 2015.
  • Brewers starters Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza have little trade value due to their 2015 struggles, but Lohse’s lesser financial commitment and superior clubhouse reputation give him more value. The team is reluctant to trade not only Lucroy, but shortstop Jean Segura as well. The Brewers are a bit more open to dealing Carlos Gomez than that pair, as Gomez is closer to free agency (he’s controlled through 2016).
  • The Mets remain reluctant to trade any of their top arms, as they’ve seen on multiple occasions how quickly Tommy John surgery or other injuries can thin out a club’s depth. (Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz have all had TJ in their careers.) The Mets are also not rushing to find a shortstop, but they have indeed been “all over the map” in terms of trade possibilities with the Cubs.
  • Coco Crisp‘s neck injury is apparently quite serious, and there’s a fear that the oft-injured Athletics outfielder will ultimately require surgery that could bring his season to an end.
  • The Blue Jays would still like to extend both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, but there have yet to be serious discussions with either slugger’s camp. Both players are controlled through the end of the 2016 season.

Coco Crisp Out Six To Eight Weeks Due To Elbow Surgery

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp‘s problematic right elbow is expected to require surgery to remove a bone spur — an operation that would sideline him for six to eight weeks.

The 35-year-old Crisp had been slated to move from center field to left field this season, as the A’s were set to deploy a platoon of Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry in center. With Crisp out for an extended period of time and right fielder Josh Reddick likely to open on the DL as well (though Reddick isn’t expected to need much time there), the Athletics’ outfield depth will be tested quickly.

Billy Burns was already expected to make the team as a reserve outfielder, and the Crisp injury will likely make it easier for Oakland to carry Rule 5 selection Mark Canha on the 25-man roster (though Canha’s strong spring had already created a compelling case).

Though the team has depth available within its ranks already, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine GM Billy Beane combing the waiver wire or touching base with the agents for outfield options who are released over the coming weeks. Dayan Viciedo, Ryan Ludwick and Nate Schierholtz are all corner outfield options that have been released/opted out of their Minor League contracts recently, and others figure to join their ranks in the coming days as the regular season fast approaches.

The loss of Crisp is a tough blow for the A’s; though Crisp’s offensive output waned somewhat in 2014, he’s been a generally above-average hitter with excellent baserunning contributions over the past three seasons. Dating back to 2012, Crisp is a .256/.332/.410 hitter, which, when accounting for Oakland’s cavernous home park, translates to an OPS+ of 108 — or about eight percent better than the league-average hitter. Crisp is earning $11MM in the first season of a two-year, $22.75MM contract this coming season.


AL West Notes: Hernandez, Andrus, Crisp, Athletics

Astros righty Roberto Hernandez has finally received his visa an is set to report to spring camp for a physical, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart tweets. Hernandez has a bit of catching up to do if he hopes to make the roster after inking a minor league deal earlier in the offseason.

Here are some notes from the AL West:

  • A rough 2014 season for Elvis Andrus of the Rangers has left some looking askance at his eight-year, $120MM extension, which officially kicks in this season. As the Associated Press reports (via ESPN.com), Andrus says that he is ready for a better campaign after reporting out of shape last year. “This year I took it a thousand times [more] seriously than I did the year before,” he said. “… That was an offseason that I hope never happens again. In spring training I wasn’t ready.” A turnaround from Andrus would go a long way toward restoring the once-promising trajectory of the Rangers, to say nothing of his own. It would also increase his appeal as a trade chip, though Texas no longer has quite the middle infield logjam it once did.
  • Coco Crisp is set to play left field this year for the Athletics, manager Bob Melvin tells reporters including Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). That shift, which was occasioned by a desire to protect the team’s investment in Crisp by reducing the toll on his body, will result in Craig Gentry and Sam Fuld platooning in center. In turn, that probably also puts an end to the notion that Oakland could look to acquire a second baseman and move Ben Zobrist to the outfield.
  • While it is hard to deny (and not entirely surprising) that the Athletics got less back for Jeff Samardzija than they gave to acquire him (along with Jason Hammel), the team feels good about the young players that it picked up from the White Sox, MLB.com’s Phil Rogers writes“Look, both of those deals are difficult,” said assistant GM David Forst. “You never like trading a guy like Addison [Russell], but Jeff and Jason filled a particular need for us at that time. Then to turn around and lose Jason and feel like trading Jeff is the best option is never an easy decision to make. Jeff is a guy who has his best years ahead of him still. He’s right at the age you want to get a pitcher. He knows his game. His stuff is without question. It was not an easy decision to make. It was part of the balancing act we are forced to make.”

AL West Notes: A’s, Crisp, Astros, Robertson

The A's hosted their annual FanFest yesterday with a sellout crowd of 20,000. GM Billy Beane addressed the gathering and is pleased with the moves the franchise made this winter. "I think we accomplished a lot of what we set out to in the offseason, and maybe a little more," Beane said (as quoted by MLB.com's Jane Lee). "The division itself is better. Texas is always good, and the Angels improved on an explosive club anyway, so I think they'll be a lot better. Houston's only going to get better. The fact is, I think this division, as much as any in the league, has improved itself, and I'd like to think we've been able to replace some of the guys we lost from a good team and maybe added more in addition." Let's take a look at the other news and notes involving the A's and the AL West:

  • Assistant GM David Forst held court with several bloggers, including Athletics Nation, at the A's FanFest. Forst was asked whether the club has an organizational philosophy on making long-term commitments. "I think we've benefited a lot from the flexibility over the last few years," Forst answered. "We don't necessarily want to recreate the team every year because fans like the players who are here and we like the certainty of guys that we know, but that we've given ourselves the ability to (play it year by year) is a huge factor in our success."
  • One long-term commitment made this week was extending Coco Crisp, but Forst isn't concerned the A's are now bound to the center fielder through his age-37 season. "We think Coco is a little bit unique in his body type. Certainly when you get to that end of the spectrum, the track record isn't good in how guys have performed, particularly where we are now in terms of hopefully being beyond (PED use). But you always are taking a risk — I mean, we dealt with it on Bartolo (Colon), dealing with a guy who performed at 39, and 40, how far is he really going to go? So that's a question we really have to take into account every time."
  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow knows his grand plan will be on display during Spring Training as several of the team's top prospects are scheduled to take part in their Major League camp, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. "I do think for our fans, especially the ones that are going to come out to Kissimmee and ones that are going to listen on the radio and watch on TV, it's fun for them to be able to see, to get a glimpse," Luhnow said.
  • Left-hander Nate Robertson has spoken with several clubs about an opportunity to win a bullpen spot this spring, tweets FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi. Robertson, who hasn't appeared in the Majors since 2010, spent last season with the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate pitching to a 3.04 ERA, 7.2 K/9, and 4.1 BB/9 in 45 relief outings covering 50 1/3 innings.

Athletics Extend Coco Crisp

2:45pm: Crisp receives $11MM in 2015 and 2016, and his vesting option is worth $13MM with a $750K buyout, Slusser tweets.

2:38pm: John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reports that Crisp's extension guarantees him $22.75MM (Twitter link). Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports the option breakdown: Crisp's 2017 option will vest if any of these conditions are met: 550 PAs in 2016; 1100 PAs in 2015-16; 130 games played in 2016; or 260 games played from 2015-16 with at least 110 of those coming in 2016.

1:41pm: The Athletics have announced (via Twitter) a two-year extension for center fielder Coco Crisp that includes a vesting option for the 2017 season. The Steve Comte client had been scheduled to hit free agency following the 2014 campaign but is now controllable by the A's through his age-37 season.

Crisp-Coco

Crisp, who turned 34 in November, slugged a surprising 22 homers in 2013 — a new career-best. Those 22 homers were accompanied by 21 stolen bases (in 26 attempts) and a strong .261/.335/.444 triple-slash line, resulting in career-highs in OPS+ (119) and wRC+ (117). Ultimate Zone Rating pegged Crisp's glove in center field as slightly below average for the the third straight season, but Defensive Runs Saved rated him at +6 runs and feels he's been slightly above average in that same three-year span.

Crisp originally came to the A's on a one-year, $5.25MM deal prior to the 2010 season. Oakland exercised a $5.75MM club option for the 2011 season and then re-upped with Crisp on a two-year, $14MM contract following the completion of that campaign. Earlier this offseason, GM Billy Beane picked up his primary leadoff hitter's $7.5MM option. All told, he's earned $31MM in his Athletics career to this point (including his 2014 salary) and rewarded the team with a .264/.327/.417 batting line, solid defense in center field and elite value on the basepaths. Dating back to 2010, only four players in baseball — Michael Bourn, Elvis Andrus, Drew Stubbs and Rajai Davis — have added more value on the basepaths than Crisp, per Fangraphs.

Crisp should be flanked corner outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick for at least the next two seasons in Oakland. His extension weakens what already looked to be a thin market for free agent position players next offseason — particularly outfielders. Brett Gardner and Colby Rasmus are among the top names in next year's class, which also includes aging sluggers such as Michael Cuddyer and Josh Willingham. Rebound campaigns from Chris Young, Grady Sizemore, Melky Cabrera and/or Nick Markakis could improve the outlook.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


A’s Exercise Options On Crisp, Anderson; Options On Young, Suzuki Declined

The Athletics announced that they have exercised their $7.5MM club option on Coco Crisp as well as their $8MM club option on Brett Anderson and declined their $11MM option and Chris Young and $8.5MM option on Kurt Suzuki. Young and Suzuki will receive respective buyouts of $1.5MM and $650K.

The news comes as a $7.5MM birthday gift for Crisp, who turns 34 years old today. The switch-hitting center fielder enjoyed the best offensive season of his 12-year career in 2013, slashing .261/.335/.444 with a career-best 22 homers. He chipped in 21 steals in 26 tries and was six runs above average in center field, per The Fielding Bible's Defensive Runs Saved metric (he was roughly average, per UZR), making the decision a no-brainer.

Anderson, who turns 26 in February, pitched just 44 2/3 innings for the A's this season. He compiled an unsightly 6.04 ERA in that time, though metrics such as FIP (3.85) and xFIP (3.26) suggest he was the recipient of some misfortune. Indeed, his 9.3 K/9 and 69.2 percent ground-ball rate seem to indicate that he should've had better superficial numbers, though his 4.2 BB/9 rate was a drastic departure from his typically excellent control.

Anderson would have been arbitration eligible had the A's declined his option. They could've had him for less than the $8MM he will receive in 2014, but declining his option would have also negated the $12MM club option the team holds on his free agent season. Essentially GM Billy Beane decided to pay Anderson an extra $1-1.5MM with the belief that he will remain healthy and look like a bargain at $12MM in 2015, as his career numbers through 2012 indicate he would.

Young hit just .200/.280/.379 with 12 homers and 10 steals in 2013 after coming over from the D-Backs in the three-team deal that sent Heath Bell and Cliff Pennington to Arizona and prospects to the Marlins.

Suzuki was acquired in an August waiver trade that was necessitated by injuries to John Jaso and Derek Norris. He batted a strong .303/.343/.545 with a pair of homers in 35 plate appearances for the A's but hit just .232/.290/.337 overall between the Nationals and A's. With Jaso and Norris both present in the long-term, Suzuki will look for a new team this offseason, as Oakland likely doesn't have a roster spot for him even on a cheaper one-year deal.


Athletics Notes: Colon, Balfour, Crisp, Anderson

Earlier today, Bartolo Colon told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he'd like to return to the A's next season and feels that he could pitch another three years in the Majors. At the time, it wasn't known if the A's were interested in a reunion, but in their postseason address to the media, both manager Bob Melvin and GM Billy Beane said they are interested in bringing Colon back for a third season (via Slusser and John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group on Twitter). Beane went so far as to say it'd be "foolish" for the team not to be interested. Here's more from on the A's…

  • Closer Grant Balfour isn't satisfied with only making the playoffs, he told reporters, including MLB.com's Jane Lee. Balfour said he intends to keep playing until he can win a World Series (Twitter link).
  • Balfour also acknowledged to CSNBayArea.com's Casey Pratt that he wanted to make sure the inning he pitched in Game 5 last night was a good one, because he knew it may have been his last frame with the team (also on Twitter).
  • Melvin said today that the A's are well-equipped to handle the potential loss of Balfour, as internal options Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle could take over as closer (via CSN California's Joe Stiglich on Twitter). As Stiglich goes on to caution, that comment doesn't mean Doolittle or Cook will close in 2014. The A's would likely explore the free agent relief market in that scenario for an additional arm to plug into the mix.
  • Beane said that the A's will exercise Coco Crisp's $7.5MM option following the season and implied that they will do the same with Brett Anderson's $8MM option (via Slusser).
  • Crisp said that he'd like to think the A's would want to discuss retaining him beyond the 2014 season (via Hickey).
  • Top prospect Addison Russell will open 2014 at Double-A "at the lowest," according to Beane, who then added that "anything can happen" once a player reaches Double-A (Stiglich reporting).
  • Beane feels that if Chris Young, whose contract contains an $11MM club option, doesn't return to the team, Michael Choice can serve as a right-handed outfielder for the team (Lee reporting). It seems logical that the A's would decline the option after Young batted just .200/.280/.379 this season.