Major Leagues: Giambi released by A’s
OAKLAND, Calif. ó Jason Giambi’s second stint with the Oakland Athletics didn’t pan out as either side had hoped.
On Friday, they parted ways ó most certainly for good this time.
Giambi was released by the A’s, cutting short the struggling slugger’s return to his first major league club. Giambi hopes to catch on with another team for a pennant push this season and prolong his 15-year career.
“Jason is 100 percent healthy and definitely plans to continue playing,” his agent Arn Tellem said in an e-mail. “He is confident he’ll be able to contribute to a team down the stretch.”
Giambi’s aching body could make that tough. The 2000 AL MVP for the A’s, he’s been on the disabled list since July 20 with a strained right quadriceps muscle.
The 38-year-old first baseman and designated hitter had returned to Oakland this season after seven pressure-packed years with the New York Yankees, agreeing in January to a one-year contract that guaranteed him $5.25 million. That included a $6.5 million club option for 2010 with a $1.25 million buyout.
Giambi was making $4 million this season, so another team would owe him the prorated portion of the $400,000 league minimum. The A’s are still responsible for his buyout.
“We’re at a point where we have a couple of first basemen, younger guys, we’d like to play. This gives him a chance maybe to go somewhere else and play,” A’s manager Bob Geren said in Kansas City. “He did a lot for our team, both this year and in the past.”
Giambi’s legs have been bothering him for months, limiting his time in the field. The injuries, however, weren’t considered career threatening.
“I talked to Jason quite a bit,” Oakland general manager Billy Beane said. “Everyone knows Jason is a great guy and this is not something any of us envisioned. He always was upbeat and, as he always does, thanked us for everything.
“It was difficult because of the person,” Beane added. “Jason has a long, successful history here and somebody that everybody was very fond of not just as a player but as a person. Those things are never easy. But once again, like everything Jason’s done this year, he acted like a professional. We’ll certainly miss him.”
A five-time AL All-Star, Giambi was batting .193 ó lowest in the majors when he went on the DL. He has 11 home runs and 40 RBIs in 83 games this season. When he was placed on the DL, Beane and Geren said a mental break might help him.
“He’s a great guy,” A’s second baseman Mark Ellis said. “I’ll definitely miss him.”
Beane re-signed Giambi in hopes he would ignite a dormant offense. Instead, Giambi had a nine-game stretch in June during which he was 2 for 26 (.077). He wound up hitting .152 for the lowest average for a month in his career.
“I don’t know all the circumstance surrounding it. All we hear is he’s released,” Oakland infielder Nomar Garciaparra said. “That’s all I’ve gotten. I haven’t had a chance to talk to him. I don’t really understand all the circumstances surrounding it.”
New York declined its $22 million option on Giambi after last season, choosing to pay him a $5 million buyout. That’s how Giambi ended up back in Oakland, the team that drafted him in the second round in 1992 out of Long Beach State. He made his big league debut three years later.
After leaving the A’s following the 2001 season, Giambi signed a $120 million, seven-year contract with the Yankees. He was slowed by injuries and ensnared in federal and baseball investigations of performance-enhancing drugs.
Giambi called it a “childhood dream” of playing in pinstripes despite the constant media scrutiny. He came back to the A’s hoping to aid in a turnaround and also mentor younger players.
Beane has been dedicated to rebuilding the franchise from the bottom up, giving young players opportunities throughout the farm system.
“He could help somebody with some big swings off the bench,” A’s reliever Russ Springer said. “He still is a dangerous hitter. He just got in a slump and got off to a bad start. This is a youth-type situation over here and they’re trying to develop some young guys. That’s part of the game. He’s a professional. I’m sure he understands.”