Leading up to the winter meetings, A's general manager Billy Beane emphasized that the team probably would focus on obtaining a young third baseman through a trade, and he attempted that the week before leaving for Indianapolis, obtaining Jake Fox from the Cubs.
Then at the meetings, Beane told reporters that Oakland has no interest in moving any of its good young talent, so it would be looking at mid-level to bargain free agents to fill some needs.
The team was linked, among others, to outfielder Hideki Matsui, who appears to fit the criteria A's owner Lew Wolff specifically said during the season that Oakland would like to avoid: He's on the downside of his career and he has had numerous injuries. After some older free agents, such as Jason Giambi, Nomar Garciaparra and Frank Thomas (the second time around) did not pan out well for the A's, Wolff had said that might be a tactic that had run its course.
The A's did see one of their own free agents, infielder Bobby Crosby, leave the fold. Crosby signed with the Pirates, while right-hander Justin Duchscherer was drawing interest from at least 10 teams as a starter, according to agent Damon Lapa.
Oakland's only move during the three days was to select reliever Bobby Cassevah, a right-hander from the Angels organization, in the Rule 5 draft. In a noteworthy accompanying move, the A's released reliever Santiago Casilla, who was expected to be non-tendered later in the week, anyway. Should Cassevah make the team during the spring, he'd essentially be taking Casilla's spot as a middle-innings reliever, but considering he's a sinkerballer, Cassevah also could be in situations where the team needs to get a grounder.
DH/OF Jack Cust was non-tendered by the A's, who decided against going to arbitration with the strikeout-prone slugger. In three seasons with Oakland, Cust hit .241 with a .378 on-base percentage, 84 homers and 229 RBIs. Cust was fifth in the AL in walks with 93 this past season. He appeared in 51 games as an outfielder and 96 as a DH. Cust also had three pinch-hitting appearances. He posted an 830 OPS against right-handers this season, versus a 621 mark versus left-handers. Cust excelled at the Coliseum, posting an 846 OPS. He had a 708 mark away from home.
Cust made $2.8 million last season and was expected to win a raise to at least $4 million in 2010. He can still re-sign with the A's, but is now free to sign with any other team, as well. Cust has been with the A's since 2007 and he has hit at least 25 homers in each of those three seasons. His OPS has declined each year, however. Cust had a 912 OPS in 2007 and an 851 OPS in 2008 before posting a 773 mark in 2009. Cust was one of six arbitration-eligible players on the A's at the start of the off-season. Joey Devine re-signed, Santiago Casilla was released and Michael Wuertz, Rajai Davis and Scott Hairston were tendered contracts.