A’s bring back Cust on $2.65M, 1-year deal | NevadaAppeal.com

A’s bring back Cust on $2.65M, 1-year deal

AP Baseball Writer

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – The Oakland Athletics agreed to a $2.65 million, one-year contract Thursday to bring back Jack Cust, giving the team some much-needed power in the middle of the order.

Cust is likely to be the club’s primary designated hitter this season. General manager Billy Beane has been committed to upgrading Oakland’s offense this winter.

Cust can earn an additional $350,000 in performance bonuses and would get the full amount if he has 600 plate appearances.

He became a free agent last month when the A’s failed to offer a 2010 contract. He hit .240 with 25 homers and 70 RBIs last season. But he also struck out 195 times, becoming the first player to lead in the AL in three straight seasons since Minnesota’s Bobby Darwin from 1972-74. Cust struck out 164 times in 2007 and 197 times in 2008.

He had 26 homers in 2007 and 33 the following year, and has topped Oakland for three consecutive seasons in homers, strikeouts and walks (93 last season).

The 30-year-old Cust made $2.8 million last season and had been eligible for salary arbitration.

While Cust played 51 games in right field last season and 96 as DH, he is more likely to focus on hitting only with the other offseason acquisitions made by Oakland. He’s also not strong defensively.

The A’s signed outfielder Coco Crisp last month to be their center fielder, meaning Rajai Davis is expected to move to a corner spot.

Oakland also was included in the big four-team, nine-player swap featuring Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay that brought outfielder Michael Taylor to the A’s. Oakland sent third baseman Brett Wallace to Toronto.

Beane acquired third baseman Jake Fox, second baseman Aaron Miles and cash considerations from the Chicago Cubs for three players.

Last week, the A’s brought back right-hander Justin Duchscherer on an incentive-laden one-year contract after he missed all the 2009 season. Duchscherer underwent arthroscopic right elbow surgery on March 31 and later was treated for clinical depression.

The A’s finished with 75 wins for the second straight season and in last place in the AL West, losing their final seven games.