The Oakland Athletics aren’t exactly a club that regularly makes investments in the future. Sure, we saw them sign Yoenis Cespedes out of nowhere, but even that was on a shorter term deal than we’ve seen many of these international prospects around the league sign. Even so, signing Coco Crisp to a two-year contract extension wasn’t all that surprising for this team.
The deal will keep Crisp in Oakland through the 2016 season and is worth $22.75 million between the two years. It also comes with an option for 2017. While it seems like a bit heftier a price than the typically thrifty A’s are used to spending, it’s not a bad deal for the team with which Crisp has rebounded after a brutal 2009 season with the Kansas City Royals. He’s a clear fan favorite and a leader in the clubhouse, in addition to what he brings on the field. There’s plenty of value in a guy like that.
However, there’s one fact that may be somewhat concerning to the Athletics, and it’s the fact that Crisp will be set to turn 37 at the conclusion of the 2016 season, when his deal is up. Is age something that should be a concern for Oakland? After all, this isn’t Bartolo Colon, whose pitching style allowed his game to age quite well for the most part. This is a position player, and an outfielder no less.
This isn’t a guy whose game is predicated around speed, but it is a factor in what he brings to the table. It’s worth noting that his steals have declined significantly in each of the last three years. After swiping 49 bags in 2011, he was down to 21 in 2013, which was less than his 2012 total of 39 despite playing in 11 more games. So one would have to imagine that the A’s signed him to this deal with the knowledge that the steals aren’t going to be there for the better part of it.
Now if Crisp is going to bring more power to the mix like he did in 2013, then that’s another story entirely. His 22 home runs were a new career high and his 66 RBIs were just five off of his career mark. His wRC+ for the year was 117, the best figure of his career and a terrific one. If that’s going to be the norm, then we could see more of Crisp at DH rather than in centerfield.
This’ll be an interesting situation to keep an eye on as Coco Crisp ages. There’s no doubt he’s valuable to the Athletics and if they’re signing him to be the key bat in the lineup, with some average defense and just a couple of swipes, then this should work out perfectly. But that age cloud is lingering and it’ll be worth watching to see if we see any sort of decline from him over the course of this new contract extension in Oakland.