6

Report: A’s talking with outfielder Gabe Gross

Just when it appears things might go quiet on the A’s front, they’re linked to another player. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports Oakland and free agent outfielder Gabe Gross are talking seriously about a one-year deal. The left-handed hitting Gross, 30, supposedly would be an option off the bench against right-handed pitchers.

This speculation has me scratching my head much as the Johnny Damon talk does. I’m not sure the A’s have a need for another outfielder, particularly if they’re serious about keeping opportunities open for a young guy like Michael Taylor. Gross hit .227 with six homers and 36 RBI in 282 at-bats last year for Tampa Bay. He started 67 games in right field.

GM Billy Beane said earlier this week that a utility infielder was the next need the team might address. He also praised his current crop of outfielders, particularly right fielder Ryan Sweeney. But I’ve learned not to count anything out this winter w/this team …

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Michael Wuertz, A’s agree to two-year, $5.25 million deal w/club option (Wuertz quotes added)

Wuertz’s take on his first multi-year contract: “I’m relieved to have a little bit of security here. It’s just a big thing for my family and I. We really enjoyed Oakland last year and I’m ready to be part of something special, with some of the new guys we brought in. (Just) continuing on with what we did in the bullpen last year and what we did in the second half.”

A source confirmed for me that Wuertz gets $2.2 million in 2010 and $2.8 million in 2011.

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The A’s just announced they’ve come to terms with reliever Michael Wuertz on a two-year contract w/a club option for 2012. The AP has the total value at $5.25 million. He was the last remaining Athletic headed for arbitration, so the A’s can check that off their to-do list …

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Andrew Bailey, Craig Breslow, Rajai Davis clip from “Baseball Tonight”

If you haven’t seen this Baseball Tonight clip of Andrew Bailey, Craig Breslow and Rajai Davis playing “Name That A,” check it out. Not sure I’m buying Bailey’s modesty on the last question. And I like the long, skinny microphone Karl Ravech is using. Doesn’t get more “game show” than that …

14

Thoughts on the 2010 Oakland A’s batting order

I was rummaging through my notes from last week’s A’s media event, and wanted to share some thoughts from Bob Geren about his possible batting order. Geren was asked how he would handle the 1-2 spots, with Coco Crisp and Rajai Davis being the prime candidates at the top of the lineup. His take:

“You can do that a couple different ways. You can go Raj-Coco or Coco-Raj. It might depend on who I bat third and fourth. If you have Suzuki batting third, a right-handed hitter, maybe you go Raj first and Coco second. And then Cust could bat fourth, a lefty. I kind of like to (alternate lefties and righties) if it makes sense, so it’s more difficult for the opposition to match up in the bullpen.”

I know … You were hoping that by now, the A’s might have obtained a better fit for the No. 3 hole than Suzuki, right? Perhaps that’s why we’re hearing the Johnny Damon reports. Anyway, Rajai-Coco (or vice versa) is a natural combo in the 1-2 spots. But I could also see a scenario where Suzuki or Ryan Sweeney could bat second and Davis or Crisp could drop down to the ninth spot. Nothing wrong with lighting a fuse at the bottom of the order.

Here’s my stab at a full lineup if the A’s took their current roster into Opening Night. This is assuming that Eric Chavez is coming off the bench, as the A’s plan, and Chris Carter and Michael Taylor are starting the season at Triple-A:

1. Davis LF
2. Crisp CF
3. Suzuki C
4. Cust DH
5. Kouzmanoff 3B
6. Sweeney RF
7. Ellis 2B
8. Barton 1B
9. Pennington SS

**I didn’t purposely try to go right-left all the way down, just worked out that way …

Let’s hear some thoughts on the A’s options …

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Kevin Kouzmanoff, A’s agree on one-year, $3.1 million deal; Rajai Davis gets $1.35 million (WITH UPDATED INFO)

LATEST INFO: Reliever Michael Wuertz is the lone arb-eligible Athletic to remain unsigned. Wuertz, who made $1.1 million last season, is asking for $2.9 million and the A’s are offering $1.9 million. This info comes courtesy of Ed Price at AOL Fanhouse.

A’s assistant GM David Forst told me he’s optimistic the A’s can work out a contract with Wuertz and avoid a formal hearing, which would come sometime in February.

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The A’s just sent out a release announcing that newly acquired third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff also agreed to a one-year deal to avoid arbitration. The AP is reporting he gets $3.1 million.

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Just got it confirmed that the A’s and outfielder Rajai Davis avoided arbitration and agreed to a one-year, $1.35 million contract w/incentives. It’s a well-earned bump from the $410,000 that Davis made last season, and it avoids the possibility of the A’s going to an arbitration hearing with him in February. Now the team will focus on signing its lone remaining arb-eligible player: reliever Michael Wuertz. Check back here later for updates.

To recap the arbitration process: A player is eligible for arbitration after three years of major league service time (and in some scenarios, two-plus years, which was Davis’ case). If a team doesn’t reach a contract agreement with an arb-eligible player, a hearing is held before an independent panel, where the team submits a proposed salary figure, and the player’s agent submits a proposed salary. The panel hears each side’s case and decides on one salary or the other — there’s no middle-ground compromise. These hearings can get nasty because a team is forced to criticize its own player to justify why the lower salary should be given.

The A’s have had great success in recent years finding some middle ground and reaching agreements w/players to avoid hearings. Teams and players were due to exchange salary figures at 9 a.m. this morning if they hadn’t reached an agreement, and I assume that’s turning out to be the case w/Wuertz. Teams can continue negotiating a deal with a player anytime leading up to their scheduled hearing, and I’d expect the A’s to hammer something out w/Wuertz before it comes to a hearing …

12

Adam Kennedy talking to four teams, but none are A’s

Quick update: I heard back this week from Paul Cohen, the agent for Adam Kennedy, and he told me he’s “far down the road” in negotiations involving Kennedy and other teams, meaning a Kennedy return to Oakland is the longest of long shots. The A’s are looking to add another third baseman, and Kennedy filled the position admirably last season. But there hasn’t been any recent dialogue between the two sides at all. Kennedy wants to play second base, and Cohen said there’s been serious interest from four teams — two want Kennedy to play second base, and two want him more as a utility man. Cohen wouldn’t reveal the teams, but a recent item on mlbtraderumors.com points out the Nationals, Mets and Marlins as teams that have been linked to Kennedy.

Just a little FYI for your afternoon …

3

Scratch Adrian Beltre off A’s list of third base candidates

47 days and counting until A’s pitchers and catchers report … Here’s a few baseball tidbits in case you’re suffering bowl-game overload …

–Numerous outlets have reported details of Adrian Beltre’s deal with the Boston Red Sox. Looks like he’s getting a one-year contract for $9 million, with a $5 million player option for 2011. I don’t think he was a realistic option for the A’s at that price, but regardless, that’s one less free agent third baseman available. The A’s still want to find an insurance plan at third in case Eric Chavez isn’t healthy. What would you like to see them do? Dip into their past and sign Miguel Tejada, as they did last winter w/Jason Giambi? Give prospect Adrian Cardenas a crack at third? See if Adam Kennedy, still unsigned, would re-consider playing third again? None of the above?

–Speaking of former Athletics: The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Mark Mulder is close to signing with the Brewers.

–Speaking of a much lower-profile former Athletic: right-hander Colby Lewis is looking for a major league job after two fine seasons as a starter for the Hiroshima Carp in Japan. You might remember Lewis’ time with Oakland in 2007. He got hammered for 10 earned runs in his first appearance — and only start — against the White Sox, then worked out of the bullpen much of the season. Even with Justin Duchscherer back in the fold, I could see the A’s bringing another veteran to spring training, to at least provide some competition for a rotation spot. Lewis seems like a decent, low-cost option to me, although the above story quotes Lewis’ agent as saying six teams are “aggressively bidding” for him.

Check back w/you soon …