The Royals obtained the fleet Crisp in a trade that sent setup reliever Ramon Ramirez to the Red Sox. A center fielder, Crisp could figure as the Royals' leadoff batter.
"He's somebody with a lot of experience, been a part of championship teams, has the ability to play center field and has had success at the top of the lineup. That was very appealing for us," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said.
The deal creates something of a crowd in the outfield if David DeJesus moves from center to left, where Mark Teahen was often stationed last year. Jose Guillen is the right fielder.
The acquisition of Crisp could trigger more deals. On Tuesday, Teahen was linked with the Chicago Cubs, although sources with that club have since downplayed that interest.
"I'm not going to be committal to where guys are going to play and where guys are going to hit. I like the options it gives us because of Coco's speed and what it does for our lineup," manager Trey Hillman said.
Last season for Boston, Crisp batted .283 in 118 games with seven home runs, 41 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. Although he lost playing time to Jacoby Ellsbury, Crisp returned to regular duty in the postseason and played well, going 10-for-24 in the playoffs.
This is the Royals' second deal for an everyday player. Earlier, they obtained slugging first baseman Mike Jacobs from the Florida Marlins for another right-handed reliever, Leo Nunez.
"I think it gives us more weapons, no doubt about it," Hillman said. "I hate to lose Noonie and I hate to lose Ramy, but it gives us an opportunity to do some things offensively, and we'll see how we can fill in the holes those two guys vacate."
Although Crisp's speed opens the possibility for more steals, both Hillman and Moore seemed equally impressed by Crisp's ability to cover center field.
"Center field is a very important position, especially in our ballpark," Moore said. "It's a huge ballpark, and there are not a lot of home runs hit here. So we felt it was obviously very, very important for us. ... We felt that Coco Crisp was the best available player for us in center field."
DeJesus, though not a burner, covered center well, although left field was seen as a better fit for him.
Ramirez, obtained last spring from Colorado in a deal that eventually sent starter Jorge De La Rosa to the Rockies, developed into a dependable right-handed setup man for the Royals. In 71 games, he was 3-2 with a 2.64 ERA.
Ramirez, 27, blossomed last season after surviving a rough May. He held opponents to a .222 average, and right-handed batters hit just .153 against him. He had a good strikeout-to-walk ratio, 70-to-31 in 71 games.
"His numbers are good. He really made himself into a premier setup man," said Ramirez's agent, Paul Kinzer. "This is his opportunity to shine. He'll be in the spotlight now -- setting up for [Jonathan] Papelbon."
The trade sends Ramirez to a Red Sox team that won the World Series in 2004 and 2007 and came within a game of returning this year.
"I feel fine about it because I realize baseball is a business and every team tries to do the best for their organization," Ramirez said through a translator. "If I'm going to Boston, I'm going happily, and I will work as hard as I worked for Kansas City."
Crisp, 29, was with the Cleveland Indians from 2002 to 2005 and then was traded to the Red Sox in a six-player swap prior to the 2006 season. In seven seasons, the switch-hitter has a .280 average with a .344 on-base percentage. In 2005, he hit .300 for the Indians.
In center field, Crisp shows speed and covers a lot of ground and has an average arm.
|"He's somebody with a lot of experience, been a part of championship teams, has the ability to play center field and has had success at the top of the lineup. That was very appealing for us."|
|-- GM Dayton Moore, on acquiring Coco Crisp|
Ramirez undoubtedly increased his value during the Royals' hot 18-8 September, when he posted a 0.93 ERA. The Royals won in each of his 10 appearances.
"Personally, I feel very good about my season because I didn't have any injuries. That was one plus. And I feel very satisfied because I went out there and gave 100 percent for the Royals. I feel in my heart I was always there trying to do my best, giving everything for the team," Ramirez said.
He plans to start pitching for Gigantes in the Dominican Winter League next month.
Moore believes the Red Sox's bullpen should benefit from Ramirez, who's likely to team with Hideki Okajima and Manny Delcarmen.
"He's a pitcher that stays on the attack with his fastball. He's got a very good changeup, and he commands the down-and-away strike very good with power," Moore said.
"He fields his position well, has some deception. He's a very poised person, an extremely confident person, very diligent worker. In fact, our people felt he might be a closer sometime in his career."
Ramirez's fastball topped out at 95 mph at times.
"I don't really pay much attention to the radar gun during the game," Moore said, "but I know he was getting guys out."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.