Coco Crisp staying with A's
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Coco Crisp offered a long list of reasons Oakland is such a great fit for him for years to come -- his sentiments the same whether or not he had a nice new contract to his name.
The Athletics have mutual strong feelings about their do-everything center fielder and speedy leadoff man, who is staying with the A's for an additional two seasons after agreeing Friday to a new contract through 2016 that adds $22.75 million in guaranteed money.
"It's nice. I don't think it was weighing on me too much," Crisp said Friday, a day before Oakland holds its FanFest. "Either way, if it happened after the season or before, this is the place I want to be."
The deal includes a 2017 option that could become guaranteed, the A's said. Crisp was set to attend FanFest on Saturday with the two-time reigning American League West champions, a week ahead of the start of spring training in Phoenix.
Crisp has a $7.5 million salary this year under a club option exercised Nov. 1. He will earn $11 million per season in 2015 and 2016, and the 2017 option is for $13 million with a $750,000 buyout.
A switch-hitter who gets things going at the top of the lineup with his aggressive baserunning and, more recently, pop in his bat, Crisp hit a career-high 22 home runs last year.
"I'm just grateful they put me up there and give me the opportunity to do that. If I hit 22, that'd be awesome. If I hit 23, that'd be better," Crisp said, grinning. "If the best part of the wood gets ahold of the balls, that would be amazing."
Crisp, 34, starting his fifth season with the A's, hasn't played more than 136 games in a season since arriving in the Bay Area. He batted .261 with the 22 homers, 66 RBIs and 21 steals last year.
Despite the power surge, Crisp has refused to call himself a home run hitter. Yet he does hope to duplicate that production in 2014.
"That's a lot of home runs. It's really impressive for a leadoff hitter," new infielder Nick Punto said. "He might not call himself a home run hitter but he has some pop in the bat."
Crisp's 2017 option would vest with 550 plate appearances in 2016 or 1,000 plate appearances in 2015-16 combined, or 130 games in 2016 or 260 games in 2015-16 combined. In addition, the 260 combined games is with no fewer than 110 played in 2016, and he can't finish the 2016 season on the disabled list.
New Oakland closer Jim Johnson is happy to no longer have to face Crisp.
"He's a pain," Johnson said. "He fights off good pitches. He's a guy you think you have a plan and your plan goes to crap."
Crisp's current contract allows him the use of a ballpark suite for six games per year -- excluding games against the Yankees, Red Sox and Giants -- and the number increases to eight for 2015-17.
Former Tigers manager Jim Leyland said several times that containing Crisp was the biggest key for Detroit to beat the A's in the division series for the second straight season. Crisp is a career .278 hitter in 30 postseason games for Boston and Oakland.
Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes, who said Friday he hopes for an extension to stay with the A's beyond his initial $36 million, four-year deal from February 2012, realizes how much it means to be playing alongside Crisp for the near future.
"I don't know if I'm going to be the next to get an extension, but he is the key for this team," Cespedes said. "I want to play in Oakland beyond my four years. I thank them for giving me the opportunity to play in the big leagues. I don't forget that."
The Coliseum field is still dirt piles in preparation for a monster trucks event at the Coliseum later this month, then it will be quickly converted and returfed for baseball.
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press
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