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.

Ohtani keeping watch on Angels’ offseason moves from afar

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SAN DIEGO – Even though Shohei Ohtani is back in Japan for the offseason, he has been in frequent contact with Los Angeles Angels general manager Perry Minasian about the team’s offseason moves.

“We talk a lot. He’s asking me daily who we’re getting,” Minasian said during baseball’s winter meetings. “He’s into it. We have a lot of players like that. Mike (Trout) and Anthony (Rendon) are like that. I think it’s a very motivated group.

“They want to see activity. They want to see the organization making a commitment to making the team better. We’ll see how it shakes out when we get to spring training what exactly we have, but we’re going to continue to look for opportunities to improve,” he said.

Minasian also reiterated his support for Ohtani taking whatever role he deems best for Japan during the World Baseball Classic in March. Ohtani said he is open to being a reliever.

“I don’t have any issue with whatever he does. He’s not one I’m worried about,” Minasian said. “He knows what he needs to do to get ready for the season. I know when the bell rings, he’ll be ready to go. There’s a comfort and trust to that.”

The Angels’ offseason moves, their future owner and the team’s performance will all be under the microscope as the two-way Japanese superstar begins his final season before hitting free agency.

Ohtani agreed to a $30 million contract for next season in September. After winning the AL MVP award in 2021, Ohtani finished second to New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge after going 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA on the mound and batting .273 with 34 home runs and 95 RBIs.

Despite Arte Moreno putting the team up for sale, the Angels have been proactive since the season ended. They acquired outfielder Hunter Renfroe from the Milwaukee Brewers and infielder Gio Urshela from the Minnesota Twins. They upgraded the rotation by signing Tyler Anderson and added to the bullpen with Carlos Estevez.

Minasian said the message from ownership has been business as usual.

“I know we’ve spent more money, I guess. But I mean nothing’s been drastically different for me. I think there have been more things that have presented themselves that made sense, compared maybe in previous offseasons, where we were and what we were trying to do,” Minasian said.

Commissioner Rob Manfred said on Tuesday that multiple groups have expressed interest in the Angels with a possibility that a sale could be completed by opening day.

Manager Phil Nevin also is on a one-year deal as the Angels try to end a string of seven consecutive losing seasons and eight consecutive years out of the postseason after going 73-89 this past season. Both are the longest active skids in the majors.