To Crisp, Oakland has familial ring
Veteran signs for one year with club option for 2011 season
Even though he grew up in Los Angeles, it'll still somewhat of a homecoming for Coco Crisp joining the Oakland A's.
That's just a couple of reasons why it was an easy choice for Crisp to join the A's in his first taste of free agency.
"I'm excited," Crisp told reporters in a conference call. "I have a lot of family in Oakland. I'm an Oakland Raider fan, too. So I'm excited and would love to help the team move up in the division and hopefully win the division. That would be nice."
Crisp also said the decision was made easier after talking to general manager Billy Beane, who told Crisp he tried to acquire the speedy center fielder in the past.
"When I was playing in Cleveland they looked into acquiring me and even when I left the Red Sox for Kansas City," Crisp said. "But now the opportunity was there for me as a free agent and he told me he really wanted to me to be a part of the ballclub. So it's exciting to come over."
Crisp's deal is reportedly worth $4.5 million and news of A's and Crisp nearing an agreement was originally reported on Sunday. Crisp, who had surgery on both shoulders this year, passed his physical on Tuesday to make the signing official.
The 30-year-old batted .228 with three home runs and 14 RBIs along with 13 stolen bases in 49 games with the Royals last year but had surgery on June 24 to repair the rotator cuff and labrum in his right shoulder before undergoing a similar operation on his left shoulder on July 21.
The Royals decided not to exercise their $8 million club option on Crisp for 2010, making him a free agent.
Crisp said he expects to be ready for the start of Spring Training and is anticipating a healthy season in 2010.
"They're fine," Crisp said of his shoulders. "I'm looking forward to Spring Training. I'm just working toward a healthy spring and a healthy season."
Crisp will help create one of the best defensive outfields in baseball with Rajai Davis expected to shift from center to left field and Ryan Sweeney to remain in right field.
Crisp said it's not set in stone that he'll play center field but did note it's his preferred position. But he also complimented Davis, who had a breakout year by batting .305 with three home runs, 48 RBIs and 41 stolen bases.
"He had one of the best second halves of any center fielder in all of baseball," Crisp said. "And I'm obviously coming off two shoulder surgeries, but hopefully I'll come in there and play center field."
Crisp also said he hasn't been told where he'll bat in the order, but he could be a candidate to lead off, especially because second baseman Adam Kennedy, who batted first in 94 games last year, is a free agent and not expected to return.
"Throughout my career I've hit everywhere in the lineup except fourth, so I'm comfortable leading off or batting second," Crisp said. "But I've also hit deeper in the lineup when I was coming off injuries in Boston. So wherever I hit I'll be fine."
One scenario could be to have Crisp lead off in front of Davis to form a potent top of the order with plenty of speed.
"It's part of our game to steal bases," Crisp said. "The dynamic of the game can change by getting into the pitcher's and manager's heads and can change the defensive scheme lightly. With us out there with our legs, we can hopefully put some pressure on opposing teams."
The odd man out in the outfield rotation appears to be Scott Hairston, who could see reduced playing time or be traded after batting .236 with seven home runs and 35 RBIs in 60 injury-plagued games with the A's after coming to Oakland via a trade with the Padres in July.
It also will make it difficult for recently acquired outfielder Michael Taylor to crack the starting lineup this season after the top prospect was acquired in a trade that sent Brett Wallace to the Blue Jays.
Crisp, a switch-hitter, has a .277 career average and .331 on-base percentage to go along with 59 homers, 327 RBIs and 137 steals in 832 games with the Indians, Red Sox and Royals.
The Padres, White Sox and Cubs also reportedly had interest in Crisp. With the signing, the A's 40-man roster is now at 40.
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.