Jack Cust Rumors

Mariners Designate Jack Cust For Assignment

The Mariners designated Jack Cust for assignment to open a spot on the active roster for Erik Bedard, announced the team.  The move drops the team's 40-man roster count to 39.

Cust, 32, hit .213/.344/.329 in 270 plate appearances for the Mariners, all as a designated hitter.  His slugging percentage had been slipping in recent years, but this year it fell off a cliff as he provided only 19 extra-base hits.  Cust, a left-handed hitter, signed a $2.5MM deal with Seattle in December after being non-tendered by Oakland.

Quick Hits: Schieffer, Ranaudo, Cust

Lance Berkman's return to Houston is a popular topic today, with the best takes I've found coming from Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Astros senior director of digital media Alyson Footer.  On to today's links:

Mariners Sign Jack Cust

The Mariners have signed Jack Cust on a one-year deal, according to a team press release.  No terms were announced, but Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets Cust's base salary is around $2.5MM.

Cust, 32 in January, hit .272/.395/.438 in 425 plate appearances for the Athletics before being non-tendered this month.  He's spent time at the outfield corners and designated hitter, and will probably stick to the latter for Seattle.  He is represented by TWC Sports.

Morosi (Twitter link) first broke the news of the agreement and the terms, with Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times adding that Cust can match last year's $2.65MM salary through incentives.  Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle first tweeted a deal was close.

Mark Polishuk contributed to this post

Astros Notes: Rowland-Smith, Hall, Cust, Rodriguez

The Rangers are grabbing all the headlines, but the other Texas team has been busy, too. The latest on the Astros:

  • Houston is interested in Ryan Rowland-Smith, according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com (on Twitter).
  • The Astros think they could get more offense from second base and have expressed interest in Bill Hall, according to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. The Yankees and Dodgers have also shown interest in Hall this offseason. Clint Barmes and Jeff Keppinger figure to play short and second for the Astros unless GM Ed Wade makes an addition.
  • The Astros and Mariners are pushing for Jack Cust, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). Seattle's interested in a number of free agents, including the former A's slugger.
  • Hall and Cust are free agents, but the Astros haven't ruled out making a trade or two. Wade told McTaggart that he exchanged trade proposals with teams today, though Houston's advances weren't embraced by rival clubs (Twitter link).
  • Wandy Rodriguez changed agents from Barry Praver to Adam Katz, according to Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Rodriguez is set to discuss an extension with Houston.

Mariners Close To Deal With Jack Cust?

Jack Cust is about to sign with the Mariners, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.  However, John Hickey of AOL Fanhouse tweets that the Mariners figure to leave the Winter Meetings tomorrow without having completed a deal aside from a possible Rule 5 pick.

Cust, 32 in January, hit .272/.395/.438 in 425 plate appearances for the Athletics before being non-tendered this month.  He's spent time at the outfield corners and designated hitter.

M’s Interested In Harden, Zaun, Chavez, Matsui, Cust

11:16pm: The Mariners are also interested in Rich Harden, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link).

5:28pm: The Mariners are interested in a number of free agents, including two players whose 2010 seasons ended prematurely because of injury. Gregg Zaun, who is on the Cardinals' radar, has caught the Mariners' attention. The team will meet with his agents tonight or tomorrow, according to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times (on Twitter).

Like Zaun, Eric Chavez spent much of the 2010 season on the disabled list. The Mariners have checked in on the longtime Athletic, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter).

In addition to Zaun and Chavez, the Mariners are interested in Hideki Matsui and Jack Cust as DH options, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).

Pirates Notes: Cedeno, Karstens, Non-Tenders

The Pirates have avoided arbitration with Ronny Cedeno and Jeff Karstens, signing both players to one-year contracts.  MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch has the contract details.  Cedeno will earn a $1.85MM base in 2011, and has a club option for '12 that includes significant incentives based on starts.  Karstens will earn $1.1MM next year.   

Cedeno is the incumbent starter at shortstop, though the Pirates are known to be looking for help at the position.  The veteran has played mostly shortstop over the last two years, but has also played second, third and the outfield in his career.  Cedeno has a .682 OPS in 672 plate appearances as a Pirate.

Karstens came to the Bucs in July 2008 as part of the trade that sent Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady to the Yankees.  In 74 appearances (41 of them starts) for Pittsburgh, Karstens has posted a 4.95 ERA and a 1.73 K/BB ratio.  As Biertempfel pointed out in his longer article, Karstens' $1.1MM salary for 2011 is almost triple what he earned last season.

Other news from Biertempfel…

  • Infielder Argenis Diaz, outfielder Lastings Milledge and left-handers Brian Burres and Donald Veal were all non-tendered by the Bucs, but the club wants to re-sign Burres and Veal.  Diaz "is unlikely to return."
  • Milledge could be welcomed back "if we think it's the right fit for the team, and he thinks it's the right fit for him," said Neal Huntington.  The Pirates GM said he couldn't work out a contract with Milledge before the non-tender deadline and "began to explore alternatives" to fill Milledge's corner outfield spot.  Two options are Jack Cust and Matt Diaz, both of whom were non-tendered themselves by the A's and Braves, respectively.

American League Non-Tenders

This post will list all the American League players non-tendered today, but the best place to track all 200+ arbitration eligible players is our new non-tender tracker.

Odds & Ends: Westbrook, De La Rosa, Papelbon

Links on a busy Tuesday as the first day of the GM Meetings wraps up…

Non-Tender Candidate: Jack Cust

Jack Cust isn’t the home run threat he once was, so even in an offseason when the A's are prioritizing power, he doesn’t have any assurances that an offer of arbitration will come his way. The A’s non-tendered him last winter after a third consecutive season of 25-plus home runs. This year, his power dropped off, so there’s a real possibility that GM Billy Beane non-tenders Cust once again.

Cust, 32 in January, hit just 13 homers this year, but still managed to reach base. He posted a robust .395 on base average and batted .272. That figure is deceptive, though; Cust’s career-high average was inflated by his unsustainable .387 average on balls in play.

Cust is a power hitter who no longer hits for power and he doesn’t have much to fall back on other than his walks. He strikes out too much, doesn’t inspire confidence on defense (he played just 16 games in the outfield this year) and is working off of a $2.65MM base salary. 

Offering Cust arbitration could cost $3-4MM, but it seems more likely that the A’s will non-tender him and try to renegotiate a contract worth less guaranteed money if they have interest in keeping him. The A’s would risk losing Cust to another team if they non-tender him, but they saved money when they took that chance a year ago. 

Conor Jackson and Kevin Kouzmanoff are also among Oakland's non-tender candidates, but we've already voted on them. It's time to see what you think the A's will do with Cust. Click here to vote and here to view the results.