The A’s settled with one of their two arbitration-eligible players today, agreeing to terms with OF/DH Jack Cust on a one-year contract. Financial numbers aren’t yet known. Last season he made $410,000, and considering he led the A’s in homers for the second straight year in 2008, he was in line for a nice salary bump.
It likely won’t be such an easy process with right-hander Justin Duchscherer, the A’s only remaining unsigned arbitration-eligible player. Last week Duchscherer’s agent, Damon Lapa, told me he wasn’t optimistic about the two sides reaching an agreement. That would send them to arbitration in February, where Duchscherer’s side would propose a salary and the A’s would propose a salary, with an arbitrator deciding which side wins. Duchscherer made $1.2 million in 2008. If he and the A’s do end up in a hearing? Duchscherer can boast of a second All-Star berth in 2008 to go with a 10-8 record, 2.54 ERA and .210 opponents’ batting average. He accomplished that in his first season as a starter. The A’s can point to the fact that Duchscherer, 31, has had back-to-back injury shortened seasons. He’s coming off his second right hip surgery in two years.
But there’s no debating how much a healthy Duchscherer will mean to this year’s rotation, which is extremely inexperienced behind him.