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Coco Crisp Is Pissed At The A's Because They've Been Benching Him To Prevent His 2017 Option From Vesting

Houston Astros v Oakland Athletics

The Oakland A’s are up to their old tricks again, as Coco Crisp is due for a little bit of a bump in salary next season, but not if the A’s can help it.

This year, Crisp is making $11 million. The way his contract reads, his $13 million option for 2017 will automatically vest if he reaches 550 plate appearances in 2016, or if he accumulates 1,100 plate appearances between 2015 and 2016. Crisp only had 139 plate appearances last season, because he only played in 44 games due to right elbow surgery, followed by a cervical strain, so the 550 plate appearances this year is the only way he’d be able to get his 2017 option to vest.

Through 93 games this season, Crisp has accumulated 396 plate appearances, putting him on a pace to have 485 plate appearances, which would make him 65 plate appearances short of having his option vest for next year. Quite predictably, Crisp knows that the A’s are doing this on purpose, and he’s not very happy about it.

“I’m extremely hurt, the way things are being handled,” said Crisp, who did not play in Monday’s 5-2 loss at Texas. “I’m not calling anyone names, but this is really frustrating and disappointing. This has been my favorite organization going back to when I was a kid, because of Rickey Henderson, and I’ve enjoyed playing here so much, and I’ve put it all out there. … Up until recently, it’s been tremendously enjoyable.”

“This is shady. Everyone else is getting used off the bench,” Crisp said. “BoMel can’t even look me in the eye right now.”

I honestly do feel bad for Coco here, but I got a laugh out of the whole, “I’m not gonna name names, but my manager’s being a bitch lately” part of the story. Yeah, it’s fucked up. The A’s are one thousand percent doing this on purpose. But that’s the nature of the beast, and it’s exactly what you sign up for when you choose to play in Oakland, an organization notorious for cheaping out on its own players, regardless of what they’ve done for the organization in the past.

You agreed to play there not once, not twice, but THREE times. Crisp signed there as a free agent in 2009, re-signed as a free agent in 2012, and then signed an extension in 2014. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, and you’ve definitely never read the book or watched the movie Moneyball. That’s also the downside to agreeing to a contract with vesting options. Yes, it’s tremendously shady for the A’s to do that, as you put it, but there’s no rule against them doing that. It’s their team, their financial commitments, and they can handle that however they’d like within the rules. Unfortunately for you, there’s no Little League-type rule saying that teams have to give players on their roster a certain amount of playing time.

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Over his 15-year career, according to FanGraphs, Crisp has been worth more than $11 million in seven of those fifteen seasons — 2016 is not one of them. This year, Crisp is hitting .239 with a 717 OPS, 23 doubles, 10 home runs, and only 7 stolen bases. I say “only”, because he stole a league-leading 49 bases in 2011. His stolen base numbers have dropped every year since then, though. However, Coco is only three years removed from his 2013 season when he finished 15th in the American League MVP voting, the only time that he’s placed anywhere in the MVP voting during his career.

So, are the A’s wrong for screwing Coco out of $13 million that he would’ve earned had he been in the lineup as often as he was physically able to be? Yeah, that ain’t right. He agreed to that contract, but so did you. But again, if you’re Coco, you’ve gotta know better than to expect Oakland of all organizations to let a $13 million option vest for a player who, to this point, is only worth $3.1 million this year.

(h/t HBT)