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What is the A's plan with Coco Crisp and his vesting option?

Some theories on Coco remaining an every day player for the A's.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

We all know about Coco Crisp's vesting option. If he plays in just 59 of the A's remaining 76 games, he'll be guaranteed an $11 million dollar contract on the 2017 A's. Coco has looked leaps and bounds better than he did last year, but that's only been good enough to make him one of the worst players in the game. Why aren't the A's preventing him from reaching that vesting option?

They're asleep at the wheel, in cruise control on their way to wasting buckets of cash

Nah. There are plenty of ways to criticize the front office, this isn't one. The A's know that Coco's option is on its way to vesting. There won't be some intern sprinting into David Forst's office in early September with a napkin in hand, showing his math counting down the days till the vesting happens. It's a money conscious organization, and they know it's on the path to vesting.

Probability: .00000000001%

They're trying to boost his value to see if any team might be interested in his services this year

Coco's value has been horrific this year, but he's being utilized in a way detrimental to his weaknesses. Namely, he's old and shouldn't be playing everyday.

The A's have shown a fierce loyalty to Crisp, and, for whatever it's worth, there have been numerous anecdotes around these parts detailing just how positive those regards are for the A's centerfielder. Crisp has had a great A's career, 2015/2016 aside, and in a lost season, finding him a new home to play out his remaining days with slightly less sad baseball wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

There are three major factors making this unlikely. For one, Crisp has been terrible. He could be palatable as a bench player, but it seems unlikely any contending team would roll the dice on his achy body.

Nearly as important, Crisp has 10/5 rights. He can waive any trade he likes by virtue of his veteran status. That might not be a dealbreaker, though. The A's are obviously much closer to Coco than we are, and know the nuance of his baseball desires.

Finally, Crisp's emergence as an everyday player has been a matter of circumstance. If Mark Canha or Sam Fuld are healthy, Billy Burns not terrible, or any number of other scenarios, this isn't an article. Crisp's option wouldn't come into consideration if things hadn't deviated so bizarrely from plan.

Of course, that last point isn't mutually exclusive with showcasing him as a potential veteran trade piece who the A's would likely give up for little return. It just makes it less likely.

Probability: 2%

They're waiting till the deadline to sort it out

I'm not really sure why they would do this, but baseball is a whole new game after the deadline. There's little value in keeping him through the deadline when he's very unlikely to be dealt anyway, but, baseball.

Probability: 2%

They view manipulating playing time as unethical

There's an argument to be made that doing anything other than playing the best option available is the wrong move. Messing around with a players time just to avoid a vesting option isn't morally right.

But this is baseball. Teams routinely keep players in the minor leagues just to earn an extra year of service time. Maybe there's a team out there that's ultra-sensitive to the stupidity that goes into baseball rules, but I don't think the A's are that team.

Plus, it's not exactly hard to make the argument for Crisp as a DFA candidate. If he's on a big league roster, it should be to play part time, to start against righties some of the time, sit against lefties, and rest his injured neck and his old legs. It doesn't take blinders to imagine him as a productive player off the bench if he isn't run into the ground by playing every day in a premium position. It's unlikely, but not impossible.

Probability: 5%

They might want him back next year

Huh. That seems like a hard sell. At $11 million, Crisp isn't likely to be worth anything approaching that contract. This year, he's worth roughly -$10 million already. Still, the free agent marketplace is a barren wasteland that the A's aren't likely to touch anyone out there. But it's a hard sell that $11 milllion freed up from Coco isn't better spent on some random jabroni, even a complete lottery ticket like a Brett Anderson or a Brandon Moss.

Plus, you could just sign him after not letting his contract vest, although that might be awkward.

Probability: 1%


I give up trying to guess what's going on with the A's. I'll say this, though: the A's are aware of the vesting option, and I'd bet my lunch that it doesn't go through. It's just TBD to see how that happens.

Probability: 90%

Billy Burns as Marcus Semien 2.0

We've talked at length about the beauty within bad seasons. The A's best position player and source of hope for the future was bred in a lost environment, being created in a way that only a bad season would tolerate. Think about it, if the A's weren't terrible last year, would they have waited patiently for Semien's transformation? There's not a chance.

And that's what can be frustrating about this year, specifically with Coco playing more than Billy Burns. Now, don't get me wrong here. I am and have been a Burns skeptic from day one, and was delighted to be wrong all of last year. This year, he's looked lost at the plate and incapable of being a starter. That may very well be the case in the future, but there's no use in not finding out exactly what Billy Burns is. His defense won't improve, his bat won't allow for the adjustments to take place, unless he's on the field. Playing Burns more could kill two birds with one stone.