A's pick up options on Crisp, Ellis, not Chavez

A's pick up options on Crisp, Ellis, not Chavez

OAKLAND -- The A's on Wednesday exercised the 2011 club options for a pair of prominent players, retaining veterans Mark Ellis and Coco Crisp for the coming season.

"Obviously, if you watched them play last year," assistant general manager David Forst said, "what their value was to this team was big."

Ellis' option was for $6 million, while Crisp's was worth $5.75 million. Both decisions were expected, as was the choice to decline Eric Chavez's $12.5 million option. The A's will instead pay Chavez a $3 million buyout.

Forst mentioned that the organization's continued focus on continuity, as evidenced by several moves this season, including the choice to keep manager Bob Geren in the fold for another year, played an integral part in keeping Ellis and Crisp around.

Ellis, 33, will embark on his ninth season with the A's and represents the club's longest-tenured player now that Chavez has departed. The organization has watched Ellis compile a career .990 fielding percentage, which ranks second-best in Major League history among second basemen with at least 750 games played.

He has appeared in an Oakland-record 962 games at the position, and it is there where Ellis has truly made his mark. He committed just three errors in 116 games this year and has always been deemed by many around the league as a Gold Glove-caliber player.

Furthermore, Ellis led the A's in batting for the second time in the past six seasons this year, compiling a .291 average through 124 games. This included a Major League-leading .413 mark with 14 multi-hit contests in September. His power has declined considerably, as noted by a decrease in home runs in each of the past three years.

However, the A's see plenty of value in his rather steep price tag and have even considered exploring a contract extension at a later time.

"On the field, he's proven he's one of the best second basemen in the game, and he showed during the last six weeks of the season what he's still capable of doing offensively," Forst said. "Those are always the first considerations in a decision like this, and Mark's certainly proved that he's worth it.

"You couldn't find a better guy to set an example for our younger players."

Ellis holds a strong presence on the club, as does Crisp. The 30-year-old outfielder, initially signed by the A's as a free agent last year, was a key facet of Oakland's lineup when healthy this season. His year was interrupted by injury three times, two of which were simply of the unlucky sort -- a fractured left pinkie finger in April and September sustained when sliding into a base.

When not sidelined, though, Crisp posted some of the best numbers on the team, hitting .279 with eight home runs, 38 RBIs and a career-high 32 stolen bases in 75 games. He gives the A's a strong leadoff threat, as well as an above-average defensive glove in the outfield.

"With Coco, the more we can keep him on the field, the benefits to the team are huge," Forst said. "When he's healthy, he adds an element that we otherwise don't have, so we're excited to have that back in 2011 and in more games than we had him for this year."

The news of Chavez, though expected, officially represents the end of a 13-year career with the A's -- marking his entire professional career, a total surpassed only by Rickey Henderson's 14 years. The 32-year-old third baseman had each of his past four seasons end early with injuries, the most recent limiting him to just 33 games due to neck spasms.

Chavez ranks among the top-10 in nearly every category on the Oakland career lists and compiled six consecutive American League Gold Glove Awards at third base from 2001-06.

"We're certainly grateful for everything Eric gave the organization," Forst said. "He literally gave as much as his body possibly could."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.