by Daniel Gettinger

There are some rumblings that the Padres are talking with Coco Crisp about a one-year deal worth between $3MM and $4MM.

This just makes too much sense.  Crisp is a decent player, appears to want to play for the Padres, would come cheap and be signed for only one year, and significantly upgrades the Padres’ outfield.

Last year Crisp missed the bulk of the season with a torn Labrum.  However, in just 49 games he amassed a WAR of 1.2.  Consistent with his career numbers, Crisp was about average offensively, but played good defense at a premium position (CF).

Although it is always difficult to project how a player will return from injury, there are no indications that Crisp will have any serious issues.  Recovery from Labrum surgery typically takes between 4 and 6 months. Crisp had his surgery in June, so there is no reason to think he will not be at full strength come opening day.

Bill James forecasts Crisp to be a little above average with the bat.  CHONE and Fangraph’s fans projections think Crisp will be a little below average.  His fielding, which with the exception of a bizarrely poor 2008 season has always been exceptional, should at least be above average.

Jeff Zimmerman, using UZR and CHONE projections, projects Crisp to be a 1.5 WAR player in 2010.  The fans have Crisp at 2.2 WAR, and James seems to have Crisp somewhere around 2.5 WAR.

Lets project Crisp at 2.0 WAR, with a minimal level of play of 1.0 WAR.

Using a $4.4MM per win conversion, Crisp appears to be worth no less than $4.4MM.  In expectation, he is worth $8.8MM.  Given the rumored price-tag of $3MM-$4MM, Crisp will almost certainly provide surplus value to the club.

His signing also addresses a need for the Padres.  Neither Tony Gwynn Jr. nor Will Venable are projected to hit or field as well as Crisp in 2010.  Crisp provides a bit of an upgrade over either of the current two CF options.

A Crisp signing also has the added benefit of providing the Padres with an answer for filling the outfield holes that will open when they trade Adrian Gonzalez and/or Kevin Kouzmanoff.  Gwynn or Venable can slide over to RF where they will team with Crisp to form a very solid defensive outfield.  The fourth outfielder still stands to play a significant amount.

Given that at the very least Kouzmanoff or Adrian will be traded, the Padres do not have much outfield depth for 2010.  Signing Crisp addresses that need, but also provides the club with a very solid player who will almost certainly provide value in excess of his salary.  A one-year deal at such a low price-point is nearly risk free, and is exactly the type of signing a team in transition, like the Padres, should be making.