The rumors that started to circulate just prior to the start of Tuesday’s game between the Indians and Twins became a reality on Wednesday as Cleveland announced that it had reacquired outfielder Coco Crisp in a trade with the Oakland Athletics.
Full details of the trade were not made available, but the Indians did send minor league left-hander Colt Hynes to Oakland as part of the arrangement.
“Over the course of the past few weeks, we’ve looked at alternatives to try to continue to add to our team and improve our position for the balance of September and, if we’re fortunate enough to get into the postseason, in October. We feel Coco helps us with that,” said Indians President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti at a press conference announcing the trade. “Obviously a guy we know really well. We’re excited to welcome him back to the organization. Switch-hitter who continues to put up good at bats, especially left-handed. Has some versatility in the outfield, can play left field and center field. We’ll add him to the mix of guys and Tito can use him based upon the way he sees the best matchups.”
The 36-year-old Crisp will return to the organization that ushered him in to the Major Leagues as a 22-year-old in 2002. He was the player to be named later in the July 19, 2002, trade of starting pitcher Chuck Finley to the St. Louis Cardinals for minor leaguer Luis Garcia. Crisp was formally sent to Cleveland on August 7 and made his big league debut eight days later.
He worked in 32 games in his debut season and another 99 the following season before his career really took off. He played in 139 games in 2004, hitting .297 with 24 doubles, 15 homers, and 71 RBI while stealing 20 bases. The following season, he played in 145 games, hitting .300 with 42 doubles, 16 homers, 69 RBI, and another 15 stolen bases.
Following the season, he was dealt to the Boston Red Sox with catcher Josh Bard and reliever David Riske for Andy Marte, Guillermo Mota, Randy Newsom, and Kelly Shoppach. He spent three seasons in center field at Fenway under the leadership of current Indians manager Terry Francona, winning a World Series with the 2007 club and getting eliminated in the 2008 ALCS.
He was traded to Kansas City following the 2008 season and appeared in just 49 games for the Royals in 2009, hitting .228.
He has spent the last seven years in Oakland, hitting a high of .279 in his first season with the A’s in 2010. He led the league in stolen bases in 2011 with 49 and four times exceeded 20 thefts in a season. He hit a career-high 22 homers in 2013.
This season, the switch-hitter has appeared in 102 games, hitting .234 with a .299 on-base percentage with 24 doubles, four triples, eleven homers, and 47 RBI.
Crisp will provide the Indians with a versatile option in left and center field with some speed and a good glove overall. He does not necessarily grade out as a good defender in the outfield, but he has made just three errors this season in 164 total chances. The bulk of his career work has come as a center fielder, where he has appeared in 14 of his 15 Major League seasons. He has made appearances in seven different seasons in left field, including each of the last two years.
Some of his splits may have been the most enticing elements about adding the veteran Crisp. He has hit .424 this season with 34 RBI in 75 plate appearances with runners in scoring position and .405 with two outs and runners in scoring position. With men on in general, he has hit .345 with 39 RBI in 127 trips. His batting average steadily rises as the intensity of the moment increases – he has hit .191 with no outs, .242 with one out, and .300 with two outs this season.
He is expected to report to the club on Thursday and will join the active roster in time for the Indians’ series with the Miami Marlins on Friday night.
Hynes, dealt to the A’s for Crisp, had not even been in the Indians organization for a full month during his second stint with the club. Cleveland had signed him to a minor league contract on August 4 after his release by the Toronto Blue Jays’ Triple-A Buffalo affiliate. He appeared in one game at Triple-A Columbus and eight games at Double-A Akron for the Indians, giving up two runs on three hits in one and one-third inning at AAA and six runs (five earned) on ten hits in nine innings at AA. He had appeared in 16 games (2-0, 5.71 ERA) at Buffalo and another 13 games at Double-A New Hampshire (0-1, 1.37) over the course of the year.
Hynes was previously acquired by the Indians on October 31, 2013, in a cash swap with San Diego. He was designated for assignment by the club at the end of spring training and traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 6, 2014, for minor league right-hander Duke Von Schamann.
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