The A’s and the Cleveland Indians have made official Wednesday morning what was reported here Tuesday night, that Oakland has traded veteran outfielder Coco Crisp back to the Indians.
Cleveland is the team with which Crisp got to the Major Leagues in 2002 and for which he played the first four seasons of his career. He’s been one of the faces of the A’s since 2010, but that ended when Crisp waived his 10-and-5 rights to not be traded (10 years in the MLB, the last five with the same team) in order to accept the deal.
The A’s, who will also ship cash to the Indians, will get left-handed pitcher Colt Hynes from Cleveland. Hynes, 31, started the year with in the Toronto Blue Jays organization before being traded to the Indians. He has a 3-1 record, two saves and a 3.99 ERA while bouncing between Double-A and Triple-A in both organizations
The money the A’s are sending will be to help defray the Indians’ costs with Crisp owed a little less than $2 million for the rest of the year and a $750,000 buyout of his 2017 contract.
Even with the money being included in the deal, the A’s are now in no danger of having a massive $13 million Crisp contract on their books for next year. He’d played in 102 games at the time of the deal, and the $13 million in 2017 would vest if he would have reached 130 games played.
The big payout now is a remote possibility – the Indians have 31 games left on the schedule, but Crisp isn’t expected to play every day for Cleveland but rather to be part of the solution as the Tribe attempts to fill in for Michael Brantley, who is on the disabled list.
Crisp was unhappy that his playing time had been cut by the A’s to the point where it became unlikely that he would be able to get to the 130-game mark, and came out mid-August to say “I know some strings are being pulled’’ to keep him only a semi-regular, adding “it all seems a little suspect.’’
He’d been limited to just 44 games last year by head and neck injuries, and even this year needed to alter his daily game preparation to be able to be ready, including the use of pain-killers.
“I haven’t felt this good in a couple of years,’’ Crisp said at the time.
And it showed. The A’s have used the disabled list a club record 27 times in 2016, but Crisp didn’t appear on it.
With Crisp traded, Oakland has contracts with just five players for 2017. DH Billy Butler, second baseman Jed Lowrie and relievers Ryan Madson, John Axford and Sean Doolittle are locked in for next season for a total of $32.1 million.
Crisp’s now former A’s teammates were uniformly unhappy to see him go but delighted at the same time that the 36-year-old switch-hitter was getting a chance to play in a pennant race, the Indians attempting to hold off the Tigers and the Royals in the American League Central.
“It’s tough so see him go,’’ left fielder Khris Davis said. “But I’m glad for him to have a chance to go back home where it started and be in the race. It’s what we all want to do at some point, to get a chance to play for a winner.’’
The A’s are bringing up second baseman Joey Wendle to fill Crisp’s spot on the roster, with Wendle and fellow rookie Chad Pinder likely to share time at second base. The time in the outfield will be spread out among Danny Valencia, Jake Smolinski and Brett Eibner, with Eibner likely to get the bulk of the freed-up playing time.
As far as the top of the Oakland lineup goes, the A’s, who already traded Billy Burns, don’t have a true leadoff hitter now. Shortstop Marcus Semien and center fielder Jake Smolinski are the only players on the current roster to have led off for Oakland this year, Semien having done it seven times and Smolinski three times.