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Beane trying to sell free agents on A's

Beane trying to sell free agents on A's

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A's general manager Billy Beane has perhaps one of the most intriguing selling points to offer the free-agent market. He also has one of the least intriguing homes to advertise.

Making the former point -- playing with one of the American League's best pitching staffs -- seems more significant than the latter -- playing in a rundown Oakland Coliseum -- is a challenge.

Beane hit on both points Monday when speaking of the club's unsuccessful pursuit of several free agents -- a market in which the A's are tuned into throughout this week's Winter Meetings.

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"Most of our focus has been on free agents," said Beane, addressing reporters on Day 1 of the annual Meetings in his suite. "Our conversations have been with agents more so than with teams."

In speaking with agents and their clients, Beane has emphasized the positives that come with dressing in green and gold.

"Players, even in the National League, know about our young pitching," he said. "It is a good selling point for some of these guys. Most of the guys who are free agents at this point do want to be a part of a team that can be successful. It's one of the first things they mention, one of the positives -- the young pitching staff, and the fact that it can get better and it's good enough to probably compete for a division if the right pieces are around."

Sometimes, that's not enough, though. The A's have already lost out on potential power additions Adam Dunn and Lance Berkman, the latter to whom Beane confirmed he offered a formal proposal that was "certainly competitive."

Furthermore, the team has reportedly rescinded its hefty offer to free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre, who has indirectly expressed to play elsewhere.

It marks the second straight year in which Beltre turned down an offer from Oakland, where an old, concrete building otherwise known as the A's home sits and inspires little from outsiders.

"Honestly, for three years, it's been a concern," Beane said. "It seems to be becoming more and more of a challenge. It's challenging enough financially given the market we're in relative to some of our peers, but there's other parts of the equation that are becoming more challenging. The facility's a hurdle. It's a fact."

Still, Beane insisted there are "still some guys available that can help us," even if all of the 30- to 40-homer guys have been taken off the board. As Beane noted, there are players available who are capable of tallying 20 to 30 long balls -- numbers that reflect a higher total than the team-leading 16 home runs Kevin Kouzmanoff posted this season. Newly formed targets could include the likes of Hideki Matsui, Carlos Pena, Derrek Lee and Nick Johnson, though Beane wouldn't discuss specific players per club policy.

Any offensive addition would presumably fill the DH role, as Beane admitted "that certainly would be an area we're focusing on." However, the A's are mindful of their strong defense and would prefer to steer clear from messing with a notable team advantage.

"It's always nice, even if your DH is primarily a DH, if he can go out there on the field if needed -- especially when you play the National League," he said. "You don't want him to be relegated to the bench.

"One of our strengths is our defense. It's one of the best in the game. You have to be careful with plugging in an X amount of homers and not realizing the impact his defense will play on the team."

Beane will be flying back to the Bay Area on Tuesday morning to tend to his ill twin children, but assistant manager David Forst will be around until the Meetings conclude Thursday and, like Beane, will address the media nightly. The speed at which the club moves quickly on free agents remains to be seen.

"A lot of it is somewhat a function of how the market itself is, regards to other teams' aggressiveness," Beane said. "It can change rapidly overnight or it can take a while to play itself out, so it's hard to say."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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