Coco Crisp Rumors

AL West Notes: Crisp, Martin, Kuo, Luetge

Mike Napoli could bring a bit of added intensity to the plate when he faces C.J. Wilson this season.  Wilson recently posted Napoli's phone number on Twitter, a response to an alleged comment made by Napoli about how he was looking forward to homering off of Wilson this season.  Napoli was not amused by the joke and, though he didn't recall making the initial statement, vowed to indeed try and take Wilson yard.  Eighty years after Babe Ruth hit his famous "called shot" in the World Series, if Napoli does indeed homer off of Wilson this season, can we call it the Prank Called Shot?

Some (more serious) news from around the AL West…

  • Coco Crisp said he wouldn't have re-signed with the Athletics had he known he was going to be moved to left field, reports USA Today's Bob Nightengale.  Yoenis Cespedes will start the year as Oakland's center fielder, and Crisp said the promise of the center field job was one of the reasons he signed with the A's over the Rays, who couldn't promise Crisp regular time in center due to B.J. Upton's presence.  Crisp did say that he was glad to be back with the A's and, in regards to the position switch, says he has to "go out here and just accept it."
  • The Rangers feel Leonys Martin needs more development and are "concerned about [his] lack of instincts," tweets Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, though the club still recognizes his talent.  The Cuban outfielder signed a five-year, $15.5MM deal with Texas last May and hit .295/.362/.421 in 343 minor league PAs, going all the way from rookie ball to an eight-plate appearance cup of coffee with the Rangers in September.
  • Hong-Chih Kuo was released earlier today by the Mariners, though if the southpaw clears waivers, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times believes the M's could re-sign Kuo to a minor league contract.
  • Also from Condotta, the Mariners are still figuring out what to do with Lucas Luetge, a left-handed reliever taken from the Brewers in last winter's Rule 5 draft.  Kuo's release could help Luetge find a spot in the Mariners' bullpen, though the M's also have Charlie Furbush, Cesar Jimenez and George Sherrill competing for roles as left-handed relief options.
  • For some news about the Angels, check this compilation of Los Angeles Notes from earlier tonight on MLBTR.

NL Central Notes: Braun, Molina, Crisp, Gimenez

Considerable uncertainty surrounds the Brewers, who don't yet know whether Ryan Braun will miss 50 games after a positive test for a banned substance. Here are the latest links from the NL Central, which will look much different than it did a year ago whether or not Braun plays a full season in 2012…

  • Braun is on his way to Brewers camp and doesn’t know whether he’ll face a 50-game suspension yet, Jon Heyman of tweets. A decision is expected today or tomorrow.
  • Brewers camp is looking different this year, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports writes. There are more distractions than the Brewers would like, as Braun's possible suspension looms and the club moves on without Prince Fielder.
  • Agent Melvin Roman recently met with Cardinals GM John Mozeliak to discuss an extension for Yadier Molina, Derrick Goold and Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch report. The most recent round of discussions took place in the past two days and went well, the Post-Dispatch reports. Roman said Tuesday that the sides won't discuss an extension after Opening Day.
  • Coco Crisp said the Cardinals offered him a multiyear deal this offseason, Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News Group tweets. The outfielder eventually signed a two-year, $14MM contract with the Athletics.
  • The Pirates nearly signed Chris Gimenez earlier this month, the catcher told Bill Chastain of The Rays signed Gimenez soon after the Mariners released him.

Quick Hits: Soriano, Pedro, Indians, Crisp, Tigers

The first few items of this post concern Alfonso Soriano, Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez.  Are we sure it's 2012?  As we wrap up a busy Friday the 13th, here are a few items to take us into the weekend…

  • Alfonso Soriano reiterated that he is willing to waive his no-trade clause, but only if the Cubs deal him to a contender, reports ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine.  Soriano is owed $54MM through 2014 and the Cubs are reportedly willing to pay most of that salary in a possible deal.
  • Pedro Martinez tells Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal that a few teams contacted him about a possible comeback last season, but the future Hall-of-Famer firmly stated he isn't making a comeback.
  • Indians GM Chris Antonetti told a group of reporters (including's Jordan Bastian) that the Tribe wasn't interested in bringing back Manny Ramirez, saying Ramirez was "not a positional fit."  While it could be argued Ramirez would be a nice right-handed complement to current Cleveland DH Travis Hafner, it's easy to see why a team would want to steer clear of Ramirez's baggage.
  • From the same media session, Antonetti said it isn't "imperative" that the Indians acquire a first baseman.  "I think we feel good about the foundation of players that we have," Antonetti said.  "We're in a good spot, but certainly we'd like to improve upon that."  Yesterday, we heard the Tribe was interested in free agent Carlos Pena.
  • The Dodgers never spoke to free agent outfielder Coco Crisp, GM Ned Colletti tells Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times.  It's hard to imagine the Dodgers matching the two-year, $14MM contract Crisp received from the Athletics, but then again, the A's are one of the few teams under even tighter budget restraints than the Dodgers.
  • The Tigers have been so quiet this offseason that's Ian Casselberry figures the club may be better off waiting until the season begins to make upgrades.
  • Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune discusses the latest Padres news and answers questions from fans in his weekly online chat.
  • On a one-year, $8MM contract, Roy Oswalt could be "the biggest bargain of the winter," opines Fangraphs' Dave Cameron.
  • Tyler Kepner of the New York Times unveils his "Unsigned All-Star Team" of the offseason's most notable remaining free agents.

Athletics Sign Coco Crisp

The Athletics have officially signed Coco Crisp to a two-year, $14MM deal that includes a club option for 2014, the team announced. News of the agreement ended 24 hours of rumors and speculation about Crisp's destination. He decided to return to Oakland despite interest from the Orioles, Cubs, Cardinals and many other teams.

Coco Crisp - A's

The deal will pay Crisp $6MM in 2012 and $7MM in 2013. The A's can exercise a $7.5MM option for 2014 or pay the center fielder a $1MM buyout. If the A's trade the Steve Comte client, he gets a one-time bonus of $250K.

MLBTR's Tim Dierkes ranked Crisp 21st among MLB free agents at the beginning of the offseason. The switch-hitter led the American League with 49 stolen bases in 2011, hitting .264/.314/.379 with 27 doubles as Oakland's center fielder. The California native seemed to prefer West Coast teams, but explained in September that he was also looking to play on a winner and find a good "financial situation" for himself.

Crisp joins Michael Taylor and Josh Reddick in the Athletics' new-look outfield. Josh Willingham signed with the Twins and David DeJesus signed with the Cubs, leaving Billy Beane, David Forst & Co. with the unenviable task of filling out an entire outfield. The A's sent Jai Miller to the Orioles today and may still be on the lookout for outfield depth.

ESPN's Buster Olney first reported the agreement. Jim Bowden of and MLB Network Radio heard from an unconfirmed source that Crisp was nearing a deal with the A's (Twitter link). Photo courtesy Icon SMI.

AL East Notes: Crisp, Silva, Soler, Chavez

Four of the five American League East teams could use starting pitching depth and though the Rays have enviable rotation depth, they need a bat or two. Here are the details on the division, starting with Tampa Bay…

  • Coco Crisp, who agreed to a two-year, $14MM deal with the Athletics yesterday, told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that the Rays were a finalist for him (Twitter links). Tampa Bay was “in heavy on” the outfielder, but Oakland presented the better offer, according to Slusser.
  • Carlos Silva would earn a base salary of $1MM if he makes his way onto Boston’s roster, according to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Silva, whose minor league deal with the Red Sox was announced yesterday, “will be part of a competition in Spring Training” GM Ben Cherington said. 
  • The Red Sox have scouted both Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler, but they’re likely to pass on Cespedes and bid for Soler instead, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Red Sox are intrigued by Soler’s talent and they don’t like Cespedes’ asking price.  
  • Japanese infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima appears to seek a couple of million dollars per season on a multiyear deal, according to Jon Heyman of (Twitter link). Heyman points out that Eric Chavez is an alternative for the Yankees if they don't work out a deal with Nakajima by this Friday's deadline.
  • Click here for details on the Orioles.

Coco Crisp Decides Where To Sign

2:29pm: An announcement from Crisp's new team should come today or tomorrow, Comte tells Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News Group.  Comte ruled out the Cubs, while Stiglich gets the impression Crisp could return to the A's.

TUESDAY, 7:33am: Though the Orioles talked to Crisp's agent, Heyman does not believe they are the team he chose.  The O's are looking elsewhere for a leadoff hitter.

MONDAY, 8:55pm: The Orioles have been talking to Crisp in recent days and they’re interested in signing him, Jon Heyman of reports. However, it hasn’t been confirmed that the Orioles are the mystery team.

7:19pm: Coco Crisp won’t be on the open market much longer. The free agent outfielder has decided which team he’ll sign with, agent Steve Comte told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Basically, we just have to let that team know," Comte told Slusser.

The Athletics want to re-sign Crisp, according to Slusser. They’ve been in touch with him all offseason, but 12-13 other teams have discussed Crisp with Comte. The A’s have also spoken to free agent Ryan Ludwick, according to Slusser. Oakland selected Ludwick in the second round of the 1999 draft and traded him to the Rangers three years later.

The switch-hitting Crisp led the American League with 49 stolen bases in 2011, hitting .264/.314/.379 with 27 doubles as Oakland's center fielder. The California native seems to prefer West Coast teams, but explained in September that he’s also looking to play on a winner and find a good "financial situation" for himself.

Carlos Beltran Decision Expected This Week

As Yahoo's Tim Brown reported yesterday, one club involved in the Carlos Beltran derby should expect a Christmas gift before Sunday, as Beltran is expected to decide on his new team this week. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch hears the same thing, noting that Beltran is weighing a variety of two- and three-year contract offers from five different clubs. Based on various reports, including Goold's, the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Rays, Cardinals, and one other NL team are believed to be in on the 34-year-old. Here are the rest of today's Beltran rumors, with the newest additions on top:

  • The Cards view Coco Crisp as a "Plan B or another direction" if Beltran signs elsewhere, a source tells Goold.
  • How quickly Beltran can return to his home in Puerto Rico is something of a factor in his decision, tweets's Buster Olney. While this would seem to favor a team like the Rays, it doesn't rule out the Jays, given the non-stop flights between Toronto and Puerto Rico (Twitter link).
  • The Rays are very unlikely to outbid Beltran's other suitors, Olney adds in one last tweet.

Latest On Coco Crisp

TUESDAY, 3:49pm: Agent Steve Comte told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that Crisp wants to play for a winner and find a home for a few years. The Cubs and Cardinals are among the teams involved, Rosenthal tweets. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes first mentioned the Cubs' interest last week.

MONDAY, 9:12pm: Multiple teams remain interested and Crisp's agent declined to characterize discussions, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (on Twitter).

8:00pm: The Cardinals are discussing a deal with free agent outfielder Coco Crisp, according to Yahoo's Steve Henson (on Twitter). If the sides complete the deal, Crisp would play center field and bat atop the Cardinals' order with Jon Jay moving over to right field.

The switch-hitting Crisp led the American League with 49 stolen bases in 2011, hitting .264/.314/.379 with 27 doubles as Oakland's center fielder. The California native seems to prefer West Coast teams, but explained in September that he’s also looking to play on a winner and find a good "financial situation" for himself.

If Crisp signs in St. Louis, then Carlos Beltran will probably have one less suitor. The move would provide the Cardinals with depth as Allen Craig recovers from last month's knee surgery.

Cardinals Maintain Strong Interest In Beltran

The Cardinals won't be able to replace all the offense they lost when Albert Pujols left for the Angels, but there are ways to replace some of it. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says the Cardinals did extensive background work on Carlos Beltran this week, and they continue to maintain strong interest in the outfielder. 

Beltran, 34, hit .300/.385/.525 with 22 homers last season, the first time he's played in more than 100 games since 2008. He's mulling over a variety of two and three-year offers according to Rosenthal, with the Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Rays also having interest in the outfielder. Toronto is said to have "significant financial flexibility," but Boston is more focused on pitching and Tampa only figures to get seriously involved if Beltran's market crashes.

Rosenthal says the Cardinals have expressed interest in both Cody Ross and Coco Crisp as well. St. Louis can add an outfielder because Allen Craig figures to miss the start of the season after having knee surgery recently, and also because Lance Berkman will move back to first base, his best position.

Cubs, Dodgers Interested In Coco Crisp

The Cubs and Dodgers have been in discussions with Coco Crisp to play left field, MLBTR has learned.  The 32-year-old hasn't played left regularly since 2005 with the Indians.

The Cubs' inquiry on Crisp is interesting, since they have left fielder Alfonso Soriano under contract for $54MM over the next three years, with a full no-trade clause.  New Cubs president Theo Epstein acquired Crisp from the Tribe for the Red Sox early in '06, extending him a few months later.  The Dodgers currently seem to be looking at some combination of Juan Rivera, Tony Gwynn Jr., and Jerry Sands in left.

Crisp hit .264/.314/.379 in 583 plate appearances for the Athletics this year, his healthiest season since '07.  His center field defense was above-average from 2009-10 but below-average this year, according to UZR.