Staturday: Should the A's sign Jason Giambi?

Another feature in this increasingly misnamed series.

I have heard "Bring back Jason Giambi" ideas floated around AN a lot recently.  What a silly idea.

We already have the exact same player, only better.  His name is Jack Cust.  Perhaps you've heard of him: big guy, strikes out a lot, running for mayor of Oakland in the next election cycle.

Cust is a left-handed hitting DH who won't hit for average but will draw lots of walks and hit for power.  Giambi is a left-handed hitting DH who might hit for average and will draw lots of walks and hit for power.  Cust is a bad baserunner and a bad defensive outfielder.  Giambi is a worse baserunner and so laughably bad in the field that he would DH on my softball team.

We will pay Cust something like $3 - 5 MM in arbitration next year, at the most, and will be under control, at no risk to us, for two years beyond that.  Giambi will cost between $7 MM - $14 MM per year, probably on a one-year deal, after which the team will have to pony up extra cash if they wish to keep him.  Cust has been basically injury-free in the last few years, save minor wear-and-tear.  Between his back, knees, and pituitary gland, Giambi could go down with a serious injury, one that causes him to miss time or be ineffective at the plate, at any time.

Pretty much entire suggestion is predicated on the assumption that Cust is not as good a hitter as Giambi.  That's simply untrue.  After weighting and regressing their hitting stats using the Marcel algorithm, we would project Giambi to hit something like.245/.375/.475 next year.  Cust?  .240/.380/.470.  Practically the same.

The only possibility that might make sense is to sign Giambi and play Cust in the outfield full-time.  Cust the DH versus Giambi the DH would be a wash in terms of production, so we'd have to compare Cust the LF to whoever's spot he's taking.  Travis Buck and Ryan Sweeney are almost locks to make the outfield, and I'd be shocked in Carlos Gonzalez isn't there as well.  Aaron Cunningham will likely be ready sometime next year.  Eric Patterson might see some time in the outfield.  Rajai Davis may or may not be tendered a contract. Forgotten men Mike Matt Murton and Chris Denorfia may get shots as well

Over 650 PA, Cust will be something like +25 runs with the bat.  Even if he replaces an outfielder who is, oh, -10 runs with the bat (someone a tick worse that than Emil Brown), Cust is probably -15 runs in defense compared to most of the guys listed above.  That means that signing Giambi and sticking Cust in the outfield will garner us, at most, an extra 2 wins (+25 - 15 - (-10) = 20 runs, 10 runs = 1win) - for which we'd have the pleasure of paying Jason Giambi about $10 MM.

I'm not opposed to paying $10 MM for an extra few wins, but only if a) we're at the cusp of contention, b) there are no better options, and c) the move has some upside.  None of those three criteria are met here.  We're not knocking at the door to the division, there are lots of low key upgrades we might make in the infield, and there is virtually zero upside to signing Jason Giambi beyond what I've outlined here.

 

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