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Five Athletics File for Free Agency

October 31, 2011

148 players filed for free agency yesterday and among those 148 are five members of the Oakland A’s: Coco Crisp, David DeJesus, Rich Harden, Hideki Matsui and Josh Willingham. At present moment given recent reports it appears that only one of those players could be back next year: Rich Harden.

Crisp as a center fielder appears as though he will have a strong market despite no longer appearing to be a prototypical leaflet type hitter with a dismal .314 OBP. In 2011, Crisp played in 136 games posting 2.9 WAR key numbers for him as his durability had been suspect in previous seasons. While long considered a plus defender this year his UZR/150 was a career low -6.7. He shared the American League lead in stolen bases with 49. The A’s are not expected to resign him and if the opportunity were to somehow present itself to do so I would not be an advocate of such a move as Crisp’s OBP is atrocious and I think his declining defense is not a blip but a sign of things to come. He atrocious arm in center alone allows so many runners an extra base that it is a very real liability.

David DeJesus spent just one season in Oakland after his arrival via an offseason trade. By all accounts the year was an unquestionable failure as he put up only 2.2 WAR after much more was expected of him featuring a career low batting average (.240), on-base percentage (.323) and a slugging percentage that bested a career low (.376) by only .004 points. DeJesus should still have a strong market as suitors may choose to attribute it to an off-year in a poor hitter’s park. I’d expect him to sign a one-year deal and rebuild value – it will not be in Oakland. If there were an opportunity to re-sign DeJesus I would favor it as I think the year was a poor one in a new place and feel he is a far better player than we saw this past year.

Rich Harden had a down year for Oakland recovering from an injury sustained in the first hours of spring training. It is expected he will be brought back and that move seems reasonable given how fragile Oakland’s arms (Harden most certainly included) have been.

Hideki Matsui had a miserable 2011 campaign truly showing his age. On recent days it’s become apparent he likely will not return and this development is a good one as he began really regressing rapidly and showing his age looking sluggish on all but the slowest of fastballs. Matsui owned a .306 wOBA – a career low and a notedly bad performance for someone who is a designated hitter. Matsui also saw his BB% reach it’s worst mark (9.6%) since his first season making him all around useless in the heart of the A’s lineup. The A’s should steer clear of Matsui this offseason and let someone else try to harness his rapidly disappearing skills.

Josh Willingham was the A’s clear offensive leader despite a career worst .350 wOBA. Despite playing half his game in the home run suppressing Coliseum, “Hammer” managed
to give away 29 souvenirs on the season to fans in left field. When not clearing the left field fence but rather standing in front of it he played a lead-footed defense ending with a -10.2 UZR/150. Willingham seems destined for a DH role and likely will be one of the better options in that market though some NL teams may say to hell with their defense coveting Willingham’s bat. If Oakland could re-sign him I would as he is a hitter who expressed an interest in re-signing – does that even happen anymore? But, it seems the ship has sailed on Willingham’s willingness to re-sign in Oakland after a lack of response to his attempts at opening dialogue with the front office.

Say goodbye to four of these guys because if we see them at the Coliseum it will most certainly be in road grays.

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