September is lean for rumors, hence the "player hopes to return next year" articles we're seeing on a daily basis. Next up: Jack Cust of the Athletics. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle talked to Cust, who wants to return in 2010 but knows the A's might have other ideas for their DH and outfield corner spots. Assistant GM David Forst was noncommittal:
"We know what Jack can do. That doesn't mean Jack is not in our plans."
Cust, 31 in January, is hitting .237/.356/.407 in 565 plate appearances this year, marking a three-year decline in his walk rate/OBP and SLG. He earned $2.8MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility. It probably does not make sense for the A's to pay him $3MM+ next year, so he is a candidate to be non-tendered. That'd allow Cust to explore Major League free agency with only four years of service time.
The free agent market has potential DHs in Hideki Matsui, Gary Sheffield, Jim Thome, and Vladimir Guerrero. At the least, three of the remaining 14 DH jobs are tied up with Travis Hafner, David Ortiz, and Pat Burrell. Mike Jacobs, Adam Lind, and Jason Kubel all spent significant time at DH for their respective teams as well.