Coco Crisp doesn’t want to give up center field unless Yoenis Cespedes is “a demigod”

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Things may change once everyone gets an extended look at Yoenis Cespedes during spring training, but for now the A’s are said to be thinking about starting him in center field and incumbent center fielder Coco Crisp isn’t thrilled about the news.

Crisp, who re-signed with the A’s for two years and $14 million in December, told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he thinks leaving him in center field would be the best option:

I’m going to make all the plays. If someone feels there’s someone better than me, it’s hard for me to believe. Unless he’s a demigod come down from the heavens, no one is going to outshine me in center field.

“Unless he’s a demigod come down from the heavens, no one is going to outshine me in center field” might be the clubhouse leader for my favorite quote of the year.

And he’s probably right, because Crisp has generally graded out very well defensively in center field–his Ultimate Zone Rating was below average last season, but 30 runs above average for his career–and plenty of the scouting reports on Cespedes questioned whether he’d be best suited as a corner outfielder long term.

Crisp also noted that he chose to re-sign with the A’s in part because they offered him a chance to play center field, whereas the Rays wanted him as a left fielder. However, he also made it clear that ultimately he’ll play wherever the A’s want him. Whichever way the A’s align their outfield there will be a logjam, as Crisp and Cespedes playing every day would leave Seth Smith, Josh Reddick, Jonny Gomes, and Colin Cowgill fighting over one spot and possibly some designated hitter work … assuming Oakland doesn’t sign Manny Ramirez.

Phillies sign Francisco Liriano and Neil Walker to minor league deals

Francisco Liriano
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Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.

Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.

Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.