OAKLAND -- The Rays agreed to terms with free-agent outfielder Pat Burrell on Monday, dramatically increasing the likelihood of free-agent first baseman Jason Giambi returning to the A's.
An industry source told MLB.com on Monday afternoon that Oakland could sign Giambi this week, likely to a one-year deal with a possible second-year option.
A's general manager Billy Beane, who is known to have had several conversations with Giambi and his agent, Arn Tellem, cited his long-standing policy against discussing negotiations while declining comment Monday afternoon.
The A's and Rays have long been viewed as the front-runners to sign Giambi for the past several weeks. But former Athletics player Carlos Pena is locked in at first base for Tampa and Burrell is expected to serve as the defending American League champions' designated hitter, so the Rays appear to have no room for Giambi.
The reported terms of Burrell's deal -- two years at $8 million per season -- also seem to favor the A's.
Burrell, 32, batted .250 with 33 home runs, 86 RBIs and a .367 on-base percentage while making about $14.25 million with the world champion Phillies last season. Giambi, 37, batted .247 with 32 homers, 96 RBIs and a .373 OBP while making nearly $23.5 million for the Yankees.
Giambi, who made his big league debut with Oakland in 1995 and was the AL MVP in 2000 before signing with the Yankees as a free agent after the 2001 season, likely would play first base for the A's. Jack Cust, who led Oakland in homers and RBIs for the second consecutive season last year, is penciled in at designated hitter.
The A's also are said to have been in contact with the representatives for free-agent outfielders Bobby Abreu and Garret Anderson, but the team has Matt Holliday slated to start in left field, 2008 rookie standout Ryan Sweeney penciled in at center and several promising young outfielders as options in right.
Oakland's first baseman last season was rookie Daric Barton, 23, who batted .226 with nine homers, 47 RBIs and a .327 OBP.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.