Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti tells Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he had an honest, upfront discussion with Coco Crisp prior to yesterday’s trade to explain that he wouldn’t receive enough playing time in Cleveland for his option to vest if the deal went through.
“We were pretty candid with Coco about that,” said Antonetti. “…The way he’ll likely be used here and the way he’ll integrate into our team, he won’t get enough plate appearances or games to have that vest. Coco was good with that, he understood.”
Crisp would’ve needed to appear in a hefty 28 of the Indians’ 31 remaining games or to tally another 116 plate appearances (3.74 per game) for the option to vest, so it never seemed all that likely that he’d see next year’s $13MM salary automatically trigger. But, Crisp had publicly expressed some displeasure over the fact that he was losing playing time in Oakland, likely to prevent the option from triggering, so Antonetti’s candor was probably appreciated by the veteran outfielder.
Cleveland, of course, could technically still pick up the $13MM option, but it seems far likelier that they’ll elect to pay Crisp a $750K buyout instead. The 36-year-old switch-hitter was a plus contributor at the plate with Oakland from 2010-14, batting .261/.329/.406 in 558 games. However, he’s struggled over the past two seasons, missing the majority of the 2015 campaign with a neck injury and hitting .234/.299/.399 in 434 plate appearances this season. He’s still performing fairly well as a left-handed hitter, though, as he’s batted .239/.307/.419 from that side of the dish. That type of production will come in handy should the Indians hold onto their division lead and make it to the postseason, as Abraham Almonte will not be eligible for the playoffs due the 80-game suspension he served for a failed PED test earlier this year. That, according to Antonetti, was a significant factor in the team’s thinking when deciding to make the trade.
Crisp, then, will have occasional at-bats in the month of August and what both he and the Indians will hope to be a substantial number of postseason at-bats that he can use to boost some of his free agent stock. He figures to enter into a left-field market that is headlined by Yoenis Cespedes and also features Michael Saunders, Ian Desmond (depending on how he markets himself this winter) and Angel Pagan, among others.