The A’s announced they’ve exercised their club options on second baseman Mark Ellis ($6 million) and center fielder Coco Crisp ($5.75 million), ensuring both players are back in the fold for 2011. But the A’s officially cut ties with third baseman Eric Chavez, declining his $12.5 million option and instead paying him a $3 million buyout.
None of these moves ranks as a big surprise, though this closes the book on Chavez’s Oakland career. It’s possible he could come to spring training as a non-roster invitee if he’s healthy, but he hasn’t played a full season since 2006. Club officials had strongly hinted that Ellis would be brought back, and his scorching September at the plate really boosted his cause. Is it a high price tag for him? I think so, considering he’s had his own injury struggles and his power has declined considerably.
This move was based on defense, which the A’s have made a priority since heading into the 2010 season. And Ellis is still an excellent defender. But this move also speaks to the fact that the young second basemen in the farm system haven’t come along as quickly as hoped. Jemile Weeks continues to battle injury problems and Adrian Cardenas hasn’t developed as quickly as expected. Adam Rosales? I think he’s more valuable to the A’s in the super-utility role he played this season. Eric Sogard looked pretty good in his September call-up, but the team still hasn’t seen enough of him to hand him the job.
The decision to bring Crisp back could hardly be considered a slam-dunk given his considerable injury struggles, but I like the move. Not only does he provide excellent defense in center, he was an impact leadoff man. In just 75 games, he hit .279 with eight homers, 38 RBIs and a career-high 32 stolen bases. Now, the key is to make sure he plays MORE THAN 75 games in 2011. And Crisp had two lengthy DL stints this season with a fractured pinkie (twice) and a strained rib cage. But this team is a different lineup with Crisp in it, and it’s worth the gamble to bring him back. Now we’ll see if the A’s search for a power-hitting outfielder to put on either side of him.
–One last note: The A’s have scheduled a traditional doubleheader next season for July 16 against the Angels. They’ve shifted a July 14 (Thursday) game in order to do so. It’s the first time the A’s have staged a planned doubleheader since 1995. The first game will start at 1:07 p.m. with the second game to follow after a short break.
Let’s hear some thoughts on today’s news …