Jack Cust became a free agent Saturday, when the Oakland A's, as anticipated, did not offer him a 2010 contract. The three other arbitration-eligible A's players did receive offers for 2010 contracts: outfielders Rajai Davis and Scott Hairston, and right-handed reliever Michael Wuertz.More
These contract decisions came several hours prior to an 8:59 p.m. PT deadline for making them.Non-tendering Cust removes Oakland's leading home run hitter in each of the past three seasons. But along with the 84 long balls from 2007-09, Cust struck out 546 times, leading the American League in each of those seasons. Having made $2.8 million last year, when he drove in 70 runs with 25 homers, Cust would have been in line for a considerable raise through binding salary arbitration. Oakland general manager Billy Beane clearly preferred to channel those funds in different directions. The A's will seek reinforcements at third, short and in the outfield the balance of this offseason. The 30-year-old Cust had been the A's primary designated hitter, making 96 of his 147 starts last season in that role. But Oakland may already have a replacement: Jake Fox, acquired as part of a recent trade with the Chicago Cubs, is a similar defensively challenged guy with a heavy bat. "He's got great power, and is having a good Winter League season in the Dominican now," A's manager Bob Geren said of Fox, who had 11 homers in 216 at-bats for the Cubs last season. "He's average defensively, but is known for his offense, a middle-of-the-lineup kind of guy."