The Oakland Athletics announced four actions today on club contract options, as they prepare for a 2014 season where the club will be two-time defending American League West division champions looking to take the next step towards a tenth World Series title for the organization.
And while it's hard to argue with the success General Manager Billy Beane and Manager Bob Melvin have had with the ever-evolving roster over the past two seasons -- the A's have won the most games in the major leagues since the start of the 2012 season -- these four announced moves today are a mixed bag.
Oakland exercised a $7.5M option on center fielder Coco Crisp, and this was pretty much a no-brainer for the A's. Crisp has been an integral part of the team's success the past two seasons, hitting a combined .260 with 60 stolen bases.
He also hit a career-high 22 home runs in 2013. In fact, it was arguably his best offensive season ever, as he posted an OPS+ mark (+119) that was the highest of his career.
In his four seasons with Oakland, Crisp has hit a combined .264 with 141 steals and 49 HRs in 462 games overall in an A's uniform.
Crisp turns 34 today, and Oakland should be able to get one more productive season out of him, so this was the right move for the A's right now.
A tougher move, however, was to decline the club option on outfielder Chris Young: while he wasn't super in 2013, he provides a lot of good things for a baseball team. The deciding reality may have been that the option for Young's 2014 season was $11M, and he just didn't produce enough in 2013 to warrant that figure going forward.
Young hit just .200 in 107 games for the A's this year, with 12 HRs, 40 RBI and 10 SBs. Adjusting to a new league is always a challenge, and the 30-year-old had spent his entire career in the National League prior to joining the A's in 2013.
In 2010, Young hit .257-27-91-28 for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and if Oakland thought he could produce those numbers again in 2014, they probably would consider that $11M price tag a bargain. But it wasn't worth the risk for the small-spending A's to take a chance on that old version of Young returning in 2014 (see the San Francisco Giants and their recent overspending on Tim Lincecum, for example).
One risk Oakland should not have taken was on Brett Anderson, the once-promising starting pitcher. The A's exercised an $8M option on the often-injured lefty, a pitcher who has thrown just 275 1/3 innings in the last four years.
This season, Anderson tossed just 44 2/3 innings -- with a 6.04 ERA -- and how that warrants an $8M price tag for 2014 is inconceivable. The southpaw's contract has basically become wasted money since he signed it in early April 2010, and Anderson has never lived up to the promise he displayed his rookie season (2009) when he threw 175 innings and posted an 11-11 record and a 4.06 ERA.
It just seems like a bad decision for the money-conscious A's to give someone with such an injury history such a big contract, even if for just one year -- very much like the bad risk it was to sign Ben Sheets way back when.
And we all know how that worked out for Oakland.
Finally, the last move the A's announced today was the probable end of Kurt Suzuki's second run with the Oakland organization. His $8.5M option was declined, of course, as the veteran backstop is no longer a starting player.
Suzuki hit just .232 for the Washington Nationals and the A's combined in 2013, and even though his return to Oakland brought about a nice resurgence -- he hit .303 in 15 games for the A's after being acquired in August -- he obviously isn't worth that kind of money.
The A's may yet decide to re-sign both Suzuki and Young, but if so, it will be at significantly-reduced cost and risk to Oakland.