Giambi won the AL MVP with Oakland in 2000.
The last time the Oakland A's had consecutive losing seasons, slugger Jason Giambi was the star who helped bring the team back over the .500 mark. The A's are hopeful that history will repeat itself again in 2009.
Eight years after he spurned the only contract offer worth more than $90 million in Oakland A's team history, Jason Giambi has returned to the A's, this time for significantly less money than he was offered in 2001. Giambi, who has spent the past seven seasons with the New York Yankees, has been inked to a one-year deal with a club option for 2010. The deal is believed to be worth $4 million with a one-year option worth $6.5 million with a $1 million buyout.
Giambi was selected by the A's out of Long Beach State University in the second round of the 1992 draft. The scout that signed Giambi was Ed Crosby, father of current A's shortstop Bobby Crosby.
Giambi made a quick rise through the A's system. After posting a 1050 OPS during his debut stint in 1992, he had a 906 OPS in his first full professional season for the High-A Modesto A's in 1993. He split the 1994 season between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Tacoma. He returned to Triple-A (this time in Edmonton) to start the 1995 season, but after hitting .342 with a 978 OPS in 55 games, the A's called up Giambi to the big leagues.
Known immediately for his friendly and brash personality and his vow to "think sexy" while in the batter's box, Giambi quickly became a fan favorite in Oakland and the team's best player. In his first full major league season in 1996, Giambi batted .291 with 20 homers and an 836 OPS. He improved those numbers in 1997 to a .293 BA with an 857 OPS. During both of those seasons, Giambi split his time between first base and left-field.
The trade of Mark McGwire in July 1997 paved the way for Giambi to become the A's full-time first baseman, a position he would hold through the 2001 season. In 1999, Giambi hit better than .300 for the first time in his career (.315) and reached career-highs in homeruns (33) and RBIs (123). The A's finished with a winning record that season, their first since 1992.
The 2000 season would prove to be a shining moment in Giambi's career. He earned the American League's MVP award by hitting .333 with 43 homers and 137 RBIs. The A's won an American League West division title that season on the final day of the campaign, in large part because of Giambi's offensive contributions.
The 2001 campaign was a walk year for Giambi, and the A's spent much of the spring before the start of that season working on a contract extension with their star. At one point, the team believed that it had an agreement with Giambi, only to see it fall apart over the A's refusal to include a no-trade clause. Giambi put that distraction behind him during the 2001 regular season and hit a still career-best .342 in leading the A's back into the playoffs and to their first 100 win season since 1990.
With a star-studded team that included Giambi, Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, Miguel Tejada, Eric Chavez, Jermaine Dye, Johnny Damon, Ramon Hernandez and Jason Isringhausen, the A's figured to be a force in the playoffs in 2001. However, after building a 2-0 series lead over the New York Yankees, the A's lost the last three games of the ALDS and were eliminated for a second straight year by the Yankees.
That off-season the A's battled the Yankees again, this time for Giambi's services. After a long, public negotiation, Giambi signed a $120 million contract with the Yankees. At the time, Giambi stated that he felt the Yankees gave him the best opportunity to win a World Series title. New York had appeared in the World Series in each of the past four seasons (winning three). The Yankees would reach only one World Series while Giambi was with the team.
Giambi's first season in New York was a success, as he hit .314 with a 1033 OPS in 155 games. However, the Yankees were upset in the first round of the playoffs by the Angels that season. The A's would also lose in the first round that year, this time to the Twins.
The next season Giambi and the Yankees reached the World Series, but lost in a stunning six-game tilt with the Florida Marlins. Giambi hit a key homerun in Game Seven of the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox that season, but the overall campaign was a disappointment for Giambi, who hit a career-low .250. He also missed significant time in the post-season with injuries.
The 2004 season was a disaster for Giambi, as a series of ailments sidelined him for more than half of the season and he managed only a .208 average and a 721 OPS in 80 games. Before the 2005 season, it was revealed that Giambi had admitted to steroid use to a grand jury in the infamous BALCO trials. The Yankees reportedly tried to void his contract that season, but he remained with the team and eventually won the AL's Comeback Player of the Year award by hitting .271 with a 975 OPS in 139 games.
Giambi's final three seasons in New York were up-and-down. He never hit higher than .253 in any of those seasons, but he did post OPSs of 971 and 875 in 2006 and 2008, respectively. He hit 32 homeruns in 2008 for New York.
The addition of Giambi is the A's second major acquisition for the 2009 season. Earlier in the off-season, the team acquired All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday from the Colorado Rockies. Between Giambi, Holliday and Jack Cust, the A's now have three legitimate 30-homer threats in the middle of what was one of the worst-producing line-ups in baseball in 2008. The A's are also hopeful that former 30-homer hitter Eric Chavez will be back to full strength in 2009 after two injury-marred seasons.
To make room for Giambi on the A's 40-man roster, Oakland has designated infielder/outfielder Joe Dillon for assignment. Dillon was picked up off of waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers earlier this off-season.
Stay tuned to OaklandClubhouse.com for more analysis of this acquisition, including the impact on some of the A's younger players, such as Travis Buck, Daric Barton and Aaron Cunningham.