OAKLAND, Calif. — Everybody seems to want Coco Crisp in an Athletics uniform in 2014.
Manager Bob Melvin does. Crisp does. General manager Billy Beane does, in part because of what he means to the team and in part because he is the favorite of the general manager’s 5-year-old twins.
Melvin said Friday he wants his center fielder and leadoff hitter back. Beane left little doubt that the club will pick up the $7.5 million option on Crisp’s contract for next year.
Crisp likes the sound of that, but he would like more than a one-year deal. He is hoping for a contract extension beyond 2014.
“I’m hoping it’s not just an option,” Crisp told the Bay Area News Group. “I’m hoping they see me as a big part of what’s happening here for a little while longer.
“But that’s out of my hands. Let’s go with it and see what happens.”
Crisp at least knows he is going to be in Oakland next season. The A’s winningest pitcher, Bartolo Colon, and saves leader, Grant Balfour, are free agents and know no such thing.
Both say they want to return, but neither knows what the A’s will offer. They also don’t know what other teams might be offering.
“It sucks, because you don’t know,” said Balfour, who saved 38 games. “That’s why my last inning (a 1-2-3 ninth in Thursday’s loss) was so important to me. If it was my last inning here, I wanted it to be worth remembering.”
Like Crisp, outfielders Chris Young, catcher Kurt Suzuki and left-handed pitcher Brett Anderson have contract options that the A’s can take or reject. Anderson probably is in the “take” pile. Young, due $11 million, is almost certainly gone. Suzuki, due $8.5 million, is in limbo, but he probably is gone, too
Beane said Friday “it’s pretty apparent” the club wants to pick up Crisp’s option. Beane would like Colon back, too, saying “it would be foolish not to” explore that in the next few weeks. The general manager would have to spend $8 million to pick up the option on the oft-injured Anderson, but the club is likely to do that because manager Bob Melvin and Beane like Anderson’s talent and potential.
Assuming the A’s pick up option on Anderson and can bring back Colon, the club would enter spring training with a deep rotation.
Anderson was the opening day starter. Colon led the team with 18 wins. A.J. Griffin won 14 games. Tommy Milone and Jarrod Parker each won 12. Dan Straily won 10 games, and rookie Sonny Gray pitched eight shutout innings in Game 2 of the A.L. Division Series and got the start, and the loss, in Game 5.
The bullpen is a different matter. It seems unlikely that the A’s will bring back Balfour after he made $4.5 million and probably is due for a big payday in free agency.
The club has Ryan Cook, who made the All-Star team in 2011 pitching as the closer for a while, and Sean Doolittle, who also has had considerable success as a late-innings reliever. Dan Otero, who spent the first half of the season as the closer at Triple-A Sacramento before becoming a major player in the A’s bullpen the second half, is another closer candidate.
“I’d say Cook and Doolittle are a little ahead of Otero,” Melvin said. “But we have some good options if we can’t bring Balfour back.”
The A’s don’t have to do too much with their roster. They are loaded in the outfield with starters Yoenis Cespedes, Crisp and Josh Reddick and backup Seth Smith all under club control.
Brandon Moss, Nate Freiman and Daric Barton are back at first base; second baseman Eric Sogard, shortstop Jed Lowrie, and utility man Alberto Callaspo all are set to return; and catchers John Jaso, Derek Norris and Stephen Vogt are under contract.
“I like our core,” Melvin said. “We have a good group. We have good depth. This is a good team.”
Donaldson said there was no reason the A’s couldn’t be back in the ALDS next year, “although it would be nice if we didn’t have to see Justin Verlander twice.”
“This is a good club,” he said. “I like it here. I like the future.”