CLEVELAND — Coco Crisp’s season has improved dramatically, and now the Indians hope he can upgrade theirs, too.
Cleveland added much-needed outfield depth and postseason experience on Wednesday by acquiring Crisp in a trade with the Oakland Athletics. The AL Central leaders sent minor league pitcher Colt Hynes to the A’s for cash and Crisp, who began his career with the Indians in 2002 and returns to a team looking to play deep into October.
Crisp waived his rights as a player with 10 years of experience, five with the same team, for the deal to be approved.
“He’s excited,” Indians president Chris Antonetti said before the Indians wrapped up their series with Minnesota. “He had the ability to not go anywhere, and Coco chose to come here.”
The Athletics agreed to give $1,673,497 to the Indians to help offset Crisp’s contract, half payable on Sept. 15 and the rest on Sept. 30.
The 36-year-old Crisp gives Indians manager Terry Francona another switch-hitter, more speed and a player who knows his way around October. Crisp has played in 31 postseason games and won a World Series with the Boston Red Sox — under Francona — in 2007.
The Indians were in the market for another outfielder after Michael Brantley had to undergo season-ending surgery and Abraham Almonte was disqualified from the postseason following an 81-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.
Crisp is scheduled to join the Indians on Thursday and will officially be added to the roster Friday. Because he was acquired ahead of Wednesday’s postseason-eligibility deadline, the outfielder will be able to play for the Indians if they make the playoffs.
“He’s got history here in Cleveland I have history with him, so I think that makes adding somebody at this time in the season a lot easier,” Francona said. “We’ve been through so much as a team and we want to remain a team. I think Coco has a really good chance of sliding in here and being a part of what we’re doing really quickly.”
Crisp batted .235 with 11 homers and 47 RBIs in 102 games this season. He played 58 games in left field and 36 in center for the A’s, who are in last place in the AL West.
He was the longest-tenured player on Oakland’s roster and his trade comes two weeks after Crisp told the San Francisco Chronicle he felt the A’s had reduced his playing time so he wouldn’t reach plateaus so his $13 million option for next season would vest.
“Coco’s been here a long time, he’s been in the game a long time,” A’s general manager David Forst said. “Nobody begrudges him saying what he feels — obviously we disagreed. Clearly it wasn’t a situation where we had to get rid of him. He was still helping us against right-handed pitching and it’s not like he was a problem in the clubhouse.
“No, didn’t feel like we had to do something. I’m not sure we necessarily would have if this opportunity had not come up.”
The Indians were up front with Crisp about his playing time.
“The way he’ll likely be used here won’t get him enough plate appearances or games to have that option vest, and Coco was good with that,” Antonetti said. “He understood that.”
Crisp played in 415 games over four seasons with the Indians from 2002-05. He batted .287 after joining the Indians, who acquired him from St. Louis as part of the deal for left-hander Chuck Finley. Cleveland packaged Crisp in a six-player deal with the Red Sox in 2006.
Crisp also played one season for Kansas City.
Hynes, a 31-year-old lefty, played 22 games for San Diego in 2013 and five games for Toronto last year. This season, he was a combined 3-1 with a 3.99 ERA in 38 games in Triple-A and Double-A.
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this report.