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Just like old times

Jason Giambi’s return to the A’s is nearing realization. A source has told MediaNews that a deal is close to being completed with the free agent slugger, and that an announcement could come as early as tomorrow. So it looks as though the A’s will add a second impact hitter to go along with recently acquired Matt Holliday. Obviously, their offense looks greatly improved on paper with Giambi’s addition. Now the question is whether Giambi, who turns 38 on Thursday, would see most of his time at first base or designated hitter. Jack Cust, who led the A’s with 33 homers last season, appears slated for designated hitter, but playing Giambi at first would squeeze incumbent starter Daric Barton out of playing time.

ESPN reports the contract is a one-year deal at $4 million, with a second-year option at $6.5 million (with a $1.25 million buyout). Not a huge dent in the A’s wallet, which means they may not be done adding offense. They could also use a veteran starting pitcher, so we’ll see how they spread out their money.

For now, how do you feel about Giambi returning to the fold?

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A’s ink radio deal

As we wait to see when baseball’s free agent market finally gets churning — and how the A’s figure into that — here’s a few team-related items you might find interesting:

*The A’s have a new radio station, signing a one-year deal with KTRB Radio 860-AM for broadcasting rights to all 162 games for 2009. No longer should the voices of Ken Korach and Vince Cotroneo go fuzzy from pitch to pitch. KTRB will provide a much clearer signal throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties than fans have enjoyed in seasons past, according to A’s VP of broadcasting and communications Ken Pries. Pries is hopeful of working out a long-term deal with KTRB eventually.

*Looks like the Tampa Bay Rays and outfielder/DH Pat Burrell have agreed to a two-year deal, and that seems to boost the chances of an A’s/Jason Giambi reunion. The Rays reportedly were also considering Giambi but may drop that pursuit now that they’ve acquired Burrell’s bat.

*Yahoo’s Jeff Passan has a story up discussing the A’s offseason strategy and what they hope to accomplish with it. Check it out here.

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Rodriguez update

I wrote earlier today about Henry Rodriguez’s struggles in winter ball. He hasn’t pitched in about three weeks, so I asked A’s assistant GM David Forst about it. Turns out Rodriguez had hernia surgery about 10 days ago (could help explain his problems on the mound). He’s expected to be ready by the start of spring training, but may proceed just a step behind the other pitchers. I threw his name out as a possible trade target by other teams, but this injury would certainly seem to put a damper on that …

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Winter ball happenings

Thought I’d direct you over to oaklandclubhouse.com, where Melissa Lockard has an update on the winter-ball seasons of some A’s prospects. A couple of note:

*Middle infielder Gregorio Petit has enjoyed a strong season with Caracas of the Venezuelan Winter League, hitting .315 with 32 RBI in 58 games. With all the speculation regarding Bobby Crosby’s status at shortstop, Petit’s name gets lost in the shuffle. He may not project as an everyday guy at short, but as things stand, he should get consideration along with Cliff Pennington for the backup infielder spot coming out of camp.

*Reliever Henry Rodriguez has struggled with Aguilas, also part of the Venezuelan League. He’s struck out 16 in 11.2 innings but has allowed 12 hits and 13 walks. It’d be something to see what Rodriguez could do if he finds his command. He hit 100 mph last spring, and I would think he’d be very enticing to other clubs. The A’s aren’t crazy about dealing their young pitching, but it might take a prospect like Rodriguez to get an impact trade done. Check out the relievers coming through the A’s system, and they seem well-equipped to withstand such a hit.

Just some food for thought …