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MLB Oakland Athletics

Oakland A’s Must Avoid Trading Coco Crisp

Coco Crisp Oakland A's

Rick Osentoski-US Presswire

With the Oakland A’s still in the middle of their search for a shortstop for 2013, there is a distinct possibility that the team might try to fill the gap through a trade.

If the A’s opt to take this route, there are a couple of players that might serve as potential trade bait. One of the most discussed players the A’s might try to move is Coco Crisp.

While general manager Billy Beane has been adamant that he will not trade any of the outfielders, Crisp still makes sense on some levels as a prospective trade piece. He is the oldest of the outfielders, and has a hefty salary of $7 million. Furthermore, the addition of Chris Young gives Oakland tremendous depth at centerfield, so if there is a player that the team could afford to lose, it might be Crisp.

Of course Crisp could have great value for a team looking to find a center fielder who can hit well, field very well and provide excellent veteran leadership. He did all of those things for the A’s last season, and was ultimately a crucial factor in the team winning the division.

Certainly Oakland would not like to lose any of that, and hence the team has stood firm to this point on its position of not trading Crisp or any other outfielders. However, if push comes to shove, the team would not lose a whole lot from a production standpoint, either offensively or defensively by trading Crisp. Young should fill Crisp’s shoes adequately, and Seth Smith would still be a quality fourth outfielder.

But, if Crisp leaves through a trade, the A’s would lose something more than his intangibles. At the moment, Crisp is the only player who can bat leadoff on the team. Yoenis Cespedes has the kind of speed and ability to get on base that teams love in a leadoff hitter, but the notion of having him bat leadoff is beyond ludicrous. Jemile Weeks has speed, but is coming off of an abysmal season in which he hit .221 and is not even guaranteed to win a starting spot. If he returns to rookie form, he could be a decent leadoff hitter, but it would be a big risk to plan on that. Oakland would be better served by letting Weeks sort out his hitting issues at the bottom of the lineup.

If the A’s cannot turn Crisp around for a shortstop who can serve as a leadoff hitter, then there is strong motivation not to trade him. It would make more sense for the team to trade one of the players in the minors or a major league pitcher. Losing Brett Anderson would be a huge blow, but would it be any worse than entering the season with Weeks batting leadoff?

Maybe a guy in the minors such as Grant Green could hit leadoff should he make the team, but for now it seems that Beane’s stance on not trading Crisp is due to more than mere gamesmanship. The A’s might be able to replace his raw numbers in the lineup and they should be able to replace his defense. With some more experience on the team, they might even be able to replace his leadership. But all of that would still leave them needing a leadoff hitter.

Perhaps Beane’s hand is forced or somebody offers just too sweet of a deal for Crisp to turn it down, but barring something unusual, Oakland will be much better served in 2013 with Crisp on the team.