The Cleveland Indians made it clear to Coco Crisp before making a trade with the Oakland Athletics for the 36-year old outfielder that he’s not likely to get enough playing time in order for his $13 million vesting option to trigger in 2017.
Crisp would need to play in 28 of the remaining games for the Indians (30 left) or make 116 plate appearances in order for the option to automatically trigger, so it’s quite clear that it was a longshot. The Indians didn’t acquire him to make him a starter in their outfield, just patch up some holes and maybe play DH from time to time. But for Crisp, who complained about the A’s benching him so the option wouldn’t trigger when he was on pace to do so, it was probably refreshing to hear something honest from the Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti.
The $13 million is a team option, which means theoretically the Indians could opt to keep him. However, with a $750,000 buyout, and Crisp no longer very productive, or at least not 8-figure kind of productive, the Indians will probably buy him out and send him to free agency. The left field market is headlines with Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Saunders, probably Ian Desmond, Angel Pagan and others, which means Crisp isn’t going to be a very high priority for teams.
In his 15th MLB season, Crisp is making $11 million in 2016. A World Series champion with the Boston Red Sox in 2007, Crisp joined the A’s in 2010, and the switch hitter did pretty well for them through 2014, batting .261 with a .735 OPS through the first five seasons, hitting 58 home runs and getting some MVP votes in 2013. The last two seasons have been a little less productive, including an awful 2015, batting just .175 while playing only 44 games. He bounced back a bit this season, with 11 home runs through 434 plate appearances, batting .234 with a .689 OPS. However, with the money he was going to pay and his fading production, it made sense for the A’s to keep him benched and not set themselves up to pay him $13 million.
Crisp appeared in three postseasons for the A’s, including their most recent one in 2014, losing to the Kansas City Royals in the wild card game. He never got to win a playoff series with Oakland.