Crisp, A's agree to two-year contract extension
Leadoff hitter guaranteed $22.75 million through 2016 with option for '17
OAKLAND -- The A's officially have their leadoff man locked up for the next three seasons. Fan favorite Coco Crisp could be around for a fourth, too, after agreeing to a two-year extension with a vesting option for 2017 on Friday.
The 34-year-old center fielder was about to enter what could have potentially been his final season with the A's, who picked up his 2014 option in November before deciding they'd like to ensure his services for several more years.
Crisp will make $7.5 million this year, and he is now guaranteed an additional $22.75 million in his new deal, according to a source. He'll take home $11 million in 2015 and '16, and the A's hold a $750,000 buyout on his $13 million vesting option for '17.
A's general manager Billy Beane has always been upfront about his admiration for Crisp, often noting that the speedster is his twins' favorite player. The two sides broached the topic of an extension early in the offseason, and Crisp's agent, Steve Comte, was in touch with Beane throughout the winter.
That they were able to reach an agreement 13 days before the club is scheduled to hold its first Spring Training workout should be something of a relief, since the goings-on of a season typically result in halted discussions.
No matter, Crisp had his mind made up a long time ago.
"I don't think it was really weighing on me too much, just something we had talked about and kind of progressed," Crisp said at the Coliseum on Friday, in advance of Saturday's FanFest. "Either way, whether it happened after the season or before, this is the place I wanted to be. This is home for me. So I'm happy with coming back more than just this year."
Crisp cited numerous reasons for wanting to remain in an A's uniform, first and foremost calling on manager Bob Melvin's presence as a weighing factor.
"He's a fantastic coach, a good person, and he keeps the clubhouse light," Crisp said. "The characters in the clubhouse are a big part of this for me, too. I have fun with all the guys. The location is nice for me, and the fans have had my back since the beginning. The heritage of the A's, and with Rickey Henderson, getting to hang around my favorite player, that's been great. The comfort of being here is nice, me knowing the city and this division."
In four seasons in Oakland, the dynamic Crisp has averaged a .264/.327/.417 batting line and compiled 49 home runs -- 22 of them last year -- and 204 RBIs, along with 141 stolen bases, in 462 games. He's started in the leadoff spot in 342 of those games, wearing out opponents along the way.
"He's a pain in the [butt]," joked new A's closer Jim Johnson, a Baltimore transplant. "Quote me on that. He fights off good pitches. As a pitcher, there are certain guys you face, where you can throw him the same pitch 10 out of 10 times and get the same result. Then there are other guys who make adjustments, and guys where you have no idea what to do. He's the kind of guy, where you think you have a plan, and then your plan goes to crap. He's fouling off pitches and forcing you into a count.
"He's not just tough there, but then he's tough on the bases. You got to pay enough attention to him and also make a good pitch. He affects the games so much, and that's why he's so good at what he does."
Additional power last year made him an even greater threat -- though it wasn't on purpose, Crisp insists. His career-high 22 homers helped him become only the 10th player in A's franchise history with at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases.
"It just happened that way," he said. "I had some success in the past hitting home runs. If it happens, it happens, but obviously my main focus is to get on base and move to the next base and get in scoring position. Hopefully I can get on base and be the player on the basepaths that I know I can be. If the home runs come, that'd be great too."
The A's would simply like to keep the sometimes fragile Crisp healthy. He hasn't played in more than 136 games in a single season since coming to Oakland as the result of various injuries, and his ability to stay on the field will only aid his chances of playing here in 2017.
Crisp's option for that season automatically vests if he either makes 550 plate appearances in 2016 or compiles 1,000 plate appearances between '15 and '16; or plays in 130 games in 2016 or 260 games combined in '15-16, with no fewer than 110 games played in 2016. However, it's voided if he finishes the 2016 season on the disabled list.
"Right now," he said, "I feel fine. I feel healthy and ready to go. I'm excited to get going again."
That was the general consensus on Friday in the Coliseum's West Side club, where more than a dozen players met with the media. One of them was Yoenis Cespedes, who not only spoke of his own desire for an extension -- he's currently signed through 2015 -- but of his feelings toward Crisp's deal.
"I don't know if I'm going to be the next to get an extension," Cespedes said, "but I do know the fact they signed Coco is great because he's the real key to this team. He's an inspiration to this team. He does so much for this team, and I'm so happy he gets this extension because he'll be able to play more years with the Athletics."
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.