If Giambi leaves the Oakland Athletics and their new position as an annual contender in the American League West, the A's will have a difficult time recovering. If Giambi signs with the New York Yankees, who have made him their primary objective, they would probably employ him as the designated hitter, go younger at first base (Nick Johnson) and third base (Drew Henson) and be the team to beat again in the AL East. And if McGwire is successful in talking good friend Giambi into replacing him as the St. Louis first baseman, the Cardinals would probably replace Houston as the team to beat in the NL Central.
Does Oakland still have a chance?
"If it only comes down to money, probably not," General Manager Billy Beane said. "If other factors are involved as well, then it's possible."
Giambi rejected a six-year, $91-million Oakland offer in the spring because it did not include a no-trade clause. The A's are now willing to include a no-trade clause, but Giambi produced another MVP-caliber season and the price has gone up, and may continue to with the Yankees and Cardinals about to join the bidding.
However, as attractive as those two teams are, Giambi would be leaving his brother in the Oakland clubhouse and leaving his role as president and enforcer of the frat house A's. What price does he put on atmosphere, the chance to play out his career with one team, the opportunity to help the small-market A's take that next step after the close misses of the last two Octobers? Time will tell.