Pondering Lance Berkman vs. Adam Dunn for the A’s

We’ll get some clarity on the A’s roster situation by Thursday night, as the team faces a 9 p.m. deadline to tender contracts to its 10 players eligible for arbitration. Those who aren’t offered contracts become free agents. As those decisions loom, here’s some thoughts on another A’s topic …

Adam Dunn’s name surfaced Wednesday as a free agent that Oakland could have interest in, but Lance Berkman remains their focus as they pursue a DH-type power hitter. I have no doubt that Dunn ranks somewhere on the A’s wish list of hitters. How could he not? He’s the top power hitter on the market, he’s just 31 years old and he’s averaged 40 homers over the past seven seasons. But he’s also likely to require a four- or five-year contract in the neighborhood of $70 million. That would likely leave the A’s with little salary room to make other additions. Berkman’s going rate is thought to be around $7 million on a one-year deal, and perhaps he’d come cheaper on a two-year deal. Signing him would give the A’s flexibility to shop for a proven fifth starter (if they aren’t able to sign Hisashi Iwakuma). Or perhaps they could add a reliever to bolster the bullpen. Or they could look for another hitter to accompany Berkman.

Of course, the flip side to this logic is the theory that the A’s are merely one big hitter away from being a contender. And if that’s the case, why not just dump a truckload of money on Dunn and pencil him in at DH? The big question, I suppose, is whether one dominant hitter truly is enough to reverse the A’s offensive fortunes, or whether it will take multiple new additions. That’s something to ponder …

The Colorado Rockies also are pursuing Berkman, according to the Denver Post. So if the A’s failed to sign Berkman, who turns 35 in February, it stands to reason their interest in Dunn could escalate. But they would also face competition for him, which could drive his price up more. The White Sox and Cubs reportedly like Dunn.

At any rate, the A’s immediate decisions involve their 10 players up for arbitration. DH/outfielder Jack Cust and outfielder Travis Buck are both strong candidates to be non-tendered. But the most compelling decision comes at third base, where it’s unlikely that Kevin Kouzmanoff and Edwin Encarnacion both will be kept. Encarnacion hit for more power last year but would probably be more costly, as he made more money in 2010. Kouzmanoff has the better glove but was a bit disappointing offensively last season.

–Lastly, Sports Illustrated came up with a fun top 10 list involving the greatest sports dynasties that never happened. They considered teams who won a single world championship but seemed destined to win more. The Bash Brother-era A’s checked in at No. 10, while the 1970’s Raiders ranked No. 8. Check it out

Joe Stiglich