It’s back-to-the-drawing board time for the A’s with today’s news that Lance Berkman signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. Berkman was the A’s No. 1 free agent target, and now they’ll be looking elsewhere to find a DH they hope can provide some power to this offense. It’s also logical to assume that the A’s will turn up the heat in their pursuit of third baseman Adrian Beltre. You have to think the A’s have made their pitch to Beltre and now are waiting for an answer. Could they go back and make an even more enticing offer?
I think the A’s chances at landing Beltre are partly tied to two of their AL West rivals. The Angels — who could use an upgrade at third base — are thought of as a possible destination for Beltre. But the Angels covet outfielder Carl Crawford as their top free agent target. Now it’s also being reported that there’s mutual interest between the Texas Rangers and Crawford, who was born and raised in Houston. Granted, several teams are in on him, including the Yankees and Red Sox. But let’s say the Rangers were to swoop in and sign Crawford. Would that spur the Angels to then push hard to sign Beltre, just to keep up with the defending AL West champs? And would the Angels’ potential interest in Beltre doom the A’s chances? I don’t know. Perhaps Oakland overwhelms him with a great multi-year offer and perhaps Beltre doesn’t want to wait around forever, and the A’s get their third baseman.
As for Berkman being out of the picture, I can tell you the A’s ranked a list of hitters they wanted to target this winter. Now they’re having to work further down that list for DH possibilities. You have to think Hideki Matsui now becomes a strong possibility, and it adds intrigue to the Hisashi Iwakuma negotiations if you believe the theory that signing Iwakuma would help Oakland get Matsui. It’s believed the A’s still hold hope they can sign Iwakuma, a right-hander who would bolster the depth of their rotation. Tuesday is the deadline to get him under contract, or he remains the property of the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan.
Any thoughts on what hitters you’d like to see the A’s pursue moving forward?