After much drama surrounding Coco Crisp’s final days with the A’s, both sides can officially move on after Oakland announced the trade that sent the veteran outfielder to the Cleveland Indians.
Just as he did following the trade of outfielder Josh Reddick, A’s general manager David Forst praised the contributions of Crisp, the longest tenured Athletic who recently spoke publicly and frankly about his displeasure regarding his cut in playing time.
“Coco was an important part to a lot of good teams here,” Forst said on a media conference call Wednesday morning. “And frankly, he was here before we were good in 2012. You could say he was the beginning of us turning things around.
“We all have a lot of sentimental attachment to Coco and what he’s meant. Obviously it’s been documented that this season hadn’t gone as he hoped. And the season hasn’t gone how many of us would have hoped. Bottom line, this was a great opportunity for Coco to go play for a playoff contender.”
Forst said the Indians, who had been looking for outfield help since before the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline, contacted the A’s about Crisp’s availability, and the framework for a deal came together Monday night. After getting a chance to speak with Indians officials, including manager Terry Francona, Crisp green-lighted the deal by waiving his full no-trade rights.
Thus ended a tenure in Oakland that included lots of highs for Crisp but ended on a sour note. Crisp was outspoken about his view that the A’s purposely cut his playing time to keep a $13 million vesting option from activating for next season had he reached 130 games played.
Crisp could not be reached for comment nor did his agent, Steve Comte, return a call. Forst denied that Crisp’s displeasure necessitated that he be dealt, adding, “I’m not necessarily sure we would have (traded him) had this opportunity not come up.”
The A’s also sent cash to the Indians to help offset the roughly $2 million that’s left on Crisp’s $11 million salary for this season. In return the A’s received minor league lefty reliever Colt Hynes, who will pitch out of Triple-A Nashville’s bullpen for the time being.
Saddled with a 57-75 record and bringing up the rear in the AL West, the A’s continue to look ahead to 2017. Second baseman Joey Wendle was called up from Nashville to take Crisp’s roster spot. The 26-year-old Wendle, who also happened to be acquired from Cleveland in the Brandon Moss trade of December 2014, hits left-handed and will platoon at second base with Chad Pinder, Forst said. Max Muncy will now see time in the outfield and perhaps play a bit of third when Ryon Healy needs a rest.
More minor leaguers will arrive after big league rosters expand Thursday. The A’s certainly will use the opportunity to add some pitching depth. Two possible starting options that manager Bob Melvin has mentioned are right-handers Jharel Cotton and Raul Alcantara, as well as Daniel Mengden, who has already logged time this year in Oakland’s rotation.
Looking ahead to next season, the A’s outfield is unsettled beyond left fielder Khris Davis. Jaycob Brugman and Matt Olson are two outfielders at Triple-A who are possibilities for a call-up, but Forst said Wednesday that the A’s want both to participate in the Pacific Coast League playoffs with Nashville before any consideration is given for a promotion.
That’s consistent with Oakland’s approach in past seasons when the big club has been out of contention. The club places value on prospects being exposed to the pressure of postseason play, plus there’s the consideration of not wanting to completely strip the rosters of farm teams that have earned playoff berths.
Forst acknowledged that a focus for the A’s needs to be identifying a true leadoff hitter. Billy Burns, who was traded in July, and Crisp shared the job for much of the season, but both posted on-base percentages of under .300.
“It’s something we’re going to look at over the next month and into the offseason,” the GM said.
With Wendle called up, shortstop Franklin Barreto — the A’s No. 1 prospect as ranked by Baseball America — was promoted from Double-A Midland to Triple-A and started at shortstop Wednesday for Nashville.