CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Indians were very upfront with outfielder Coco Crisp when it came to his vesting option for next season.
Under his current deal with the Athletics, his $13 million option would vest only if the switch-hitting outfielder reached 130 games or 550 plate appearances in 2016.
As it stands now, Crisp has played in 102 games and reached 434 plate appearances this year. His trade to Cleveland by Oakland on Wednesday officially ended any possibility of that happening this season.
“We wanted to make sure we were very sensitive to it,” Indians President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti said. “When [manager Terry Francona] and I talked with him, we walked through that. The way he’ll likely be used here, and the way he’ll integrate into our team, won’t get him enough plate appearances or games to have that option vest. Coco was good with that. He understood.”
That didn’t stop the veteran outfielder from passing on his ten-and-five rights — having spent over 10 years in the Majors and over five season with the A’s gives him the right to decline any trade — instead opting to join the first-place Tribe.
Cleveland officially agreed to a swap for the 36-year-old with the Athletics on Wednesday morning, bringing Crisp back to the team he made his Major League debut with in 2002.
The switch-hitting outfielder spent parts of four seasons with the Indians from 2002-2005, and his return to his former squad gives Cleveland another puzzle piece in their outfield, as the Tribe attempts to gear up for a potential playoff push.
“We feel Coco helps us with that,” Antonetti said. “Obviously, he’s a guy we know really well. We’re excited to welcome him back to the organization. He’s a switch-hitter that continues to put up some pretty good at-bats, especially left-handed. He has some versatility in the outfield. He can play left field and center field. We’ll add him to the mix of guys and Tito can use him based upon the way he sees the best matchups.”
This season, Crisp was slashing .234/.299/.399 with the A’s, with 24 doubles, 11 homers, 45 runs scored, 47 RBI and seven steals. And for whatever reason, the outfielder has been very good with runners in scoring position in 2016, hitting .424 (28-for-66) in those situations.
His addition should help off-set the inability for outfielder Abraham Almonte to play in the postseason due to the 80-game suspension for PEDs he served earlier this season.
“I can’t see any scenario where it hurts [to add Crisp],” Francona said. “If we’re fortunate enough to move on, we don’t have Abe. That’s just the reality of where we are.”
Francona also believes his familiarity with Crisp — he managed the switch-hitter in Boston from 2006-2008 — and Crisp’s veteran status should help make the transition a smooth one.
“I think that makes adding somebody at this time in the season a lot easier,” Francona said. “We’ve been through so much as a team. You want to remain a team. I think Coco has a really good chance of sliding in here and being a part of what we’re doing really quickly.”
Crisp is expected to join the team on Thursday and be activated on Friday for the club’s three-game series opener against the Miami Marlins at Progressive Field.