Knee-Jerk Reaction: The A’s Sign Coco Crisp To An Extension
There are special moments for thoughtful reflection about new developments with the Oakland A’s … and then there are moments like these where I only have time for a quick post.
It looks like the Bernie Lean will be alive and well in Oakland through at least 2016 after the A’s signed center fielder Coco Crisp to a two-year contract extension for $22.75 million today. A vesting option could keep Crisp in green and gold in 2017 too which would run through Crisp’s age-37 season.I’m stunned and amazed that the A’s have opened their pocketbook to keep a veteran player in Oakland. I assumed that Crisp would play out his contract in 2014 and depart as a free agent, opening the door for Craig Gentry to bridge the the gap to Billy McKinney‘s or Billy Burns‘ arrival in Oakland.
Leave it to general manager Billy Beane to throw a curveball after I invest a lot of time and effort overthinking Crisp’s contract and the acquistions of Gentry and Burns this offseason.
On the one hand, the Crisp contract extension has me scratching my head because it involves spending millions on a veteran when there are younger, cheaper options available to the A’s over the next few years. Cutting bait when a player gets to free agency and handing playing time to a kid is often Oakland’s small-budget way of doing business.
But the extension also makes some sense because it buys time for Burns and McKinney to develop, the A’s (like every team in baseball) have plenty of national TV money to burn and Crisp signed for a relatively reasonable number. With big contracts such as closer Jim Johnson‘s $10 million coming off the books after this season and no significant long-term commitments made to anyone else on the roster, the A’s can easily afford to pencil Crisp into the lineup for the next few years.
Considering the fact that Crisp is coming off a career year with a slash line of .261/.335/.444 with 22 homers and 21 steals and he’s contributed WARs of 3.4, 2.7, 3.0 and 4.3 since arriving in Oakland in 2010, it’s easy to see why Beane and Crisp don’t want to break up what’s been a wildly successful relationship.
Now it looks like Gentry will be Crisp’s primary backup over the next couple of years instead of his replacement which is a fantastic insurance plan for the A’s to have considering Crisp’s knack for getting knicked up during the season. Burns and McKinney get to advance through the minors at their own pace and the A’s get to enjoy the services of their center fielder and catalyst for a few more years.
Normally, I’d cringe at the A’s making a multi-year, multi-million dollar commitment to a speed player in his late 30s. But the money involved is arguably negligible, the length of the contract is short and as Fangraphs has pointed out speed players are actually aging well. If Crisp’s production and health falls off a cliff in the next couple of years this extension will obviously look like a bad deal but it’s not a contract that will cripple the A’s from making other moves.
All in all, this surprising contract extension looks like a potential winner for the A’s, Crisp and fans of the Bernie Lean.