A’s do right by Coco Crisp

By Matt Verderame

The Oakland A’s did one of the rarest things in professional sports on Tuesday night. They rewarded a player for his loyalty and service by simply letting him have a chance to win.

Oakland, which has been out of the race since sometimes midway through spring training, dealt Coco Crisp to the Cleveland Indians. In exchange, the A’s received Colt Hynes. Hynes is a 31-year-old reliever who has 20 career innings at the Major League Baseball level.

In other words, Oakland simply dealt Crisp for nothing. The A’s wanted an aging star to have one more shot at a ring, and they were willing to give him up to free that pursuit.

Crisp was having a decent year in Oakland, hitting .234 with 11 home runs and 24 doubles. Certainly, the 36-year-old outfielder in his 14th season doesn’t have the abilities he once did, but he can help a contender as an extra piece. The A’s weren’t planning on playing Crisp much down the stretch to avoid his vesting option, which would have been $13 million in 2017.

Some might say Oakland dealt Crisp to avoid an ugly situation and a hefty check. The reality is, the A’s are in a small market and nobody would have even noticed.

This will end up being a footnote to a solid if unspectacular career should the Indians fail to win their first World Series since 1954. Yet, because of the rarity of the moment, it deserves to be memorialized.

Crisp is one of those players who sticks around for years, waiting for everyone to realize just how good he is. In 14 seasons, the man with the funny name has 306 stolen bases and 1,561 hits. While most look at Crisp and see a lithe man with little pop, he has amassed five double-digit home run seasons and 128 for his career. He has also totaled 305 doubles and 57 triples. Finally, he’s a World Series champion, having won a ring with the 2007 Boston Red Sox.

Regardless, he will be remembered for his time in Oakland. Crisp was the catalyst on some great teams that couldn’t reach their full potential in the playoffs, but remain some of the more exciting squads of recent years. In 2012, most believed Oakland would finish with close to 100 losses. Instead, the A’s charged from 13 games back in June to an AL West title, all with Crisp at the forefront.

For anybody who loves Crisp and the A’s, it will always be about Doing the Bernie.

In the end, though, this day is about doing the right thing. So many terrific players wither away on bad clubs who refuse to let a man go simply because it’s about optics. Oakland bypassed all that, and gave Crisp another taste of October baseball.

For seven years, Crisp gave the A’s everything he had. On Tuesday, Oakland returned the favor.