Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp is unhappy with the A’s for what he believes to be their intentionally benching him in order to prevent his $13 million option for 2017 from vesting. In order for it to vest, Crisp has to play in 130 games. He’s played in only 93 despite being healthy. He says he is hurt by the way the A’s are treating him and that “this is shady.”
Whether it’s “shady” or just one of the risks you face when you agree to a vesting option with a team with a history of being budget conscious is open to personal interpretation, but Crisp is absolutely right that the A’s are intentionally keeping him on the bench. Slusser quotes Bob Melvin as saying that they’re just keeping Crisp away from lefties. Tim Eckert-Fong of Athletics Nation noted, however, that once the A’s got into the righties of the Rangers bullpen last night, Melvin used utilityman Max Muncy against righty Matt Bush despite the fact that Crisp homered off of Bush the first time he faced him. We can argue about the utility of batter vs. pitcher matchups, but it’s hard to imagine any explanation for not using Crisp in that situation other than a desire to simply avoid using Crisp at all costs. Just about every manager not under orders from his front office to prevent Crisp from playing in 130 games would use Crisp there.
But, like I said: that’s a risk of a vesting option. Just about every team has found itself in that situation over the years. If anything, you hear more about it when a manager LETS an option like that vest rather than snuffs it out. Anyone remember Jimy Williams giving Steve Avery a gift start in 1997 to let Avery’s $4 million option vest despite the fact that Avery was beyond cooked? That was a fun.
Crisp will probably get a gift start or three now that he has voiced his displeasure with his treatment. But I’d be shocked if the A’s let him get anywhere close to 130 games in the 2016 season.