- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
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The Philadelphia Phillies had talked with Nomar Garciaparra early in the offseason about joining them as a part-time player to balance their lineup and Garciaparra, not completely sure what he wants to do, didn't jump at the idea.
But according to a union source, the free agent infielder now has another alternative to consider: The Oakland Athletics, who have been fishing around for an infielder.
Oakland's interest in him is presumably to help them balance their lineup: The right-handed hitting Garciaparra hammered lefties last season, going 19-for-56, with four homers and a 1.067 OPS. The Athletics are heavy in left-handed hitters, with right fielder Jack Cust, designated hitter Jason Giambi, first baseman Daric Barton and third baseman Eric Chavez, among others.
Garciaparra, 35, batted .264 in 55 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, as he battled injuries.
Oakland has maintained an interest in free agent shortstop Orlando Cabrera, who would appear to have very few options with spring training now started and with most teams tapped out for money.
Executives with other teams who have expressed interest in Cabrera say that for much of the winter, a starting point in negotiations for the shortstop were expected to be at $9 million a year -- which is exactly what Edgar Renteria, who also was a free agent last fall, got in his deal from the San Francisco Giants.
But the most recent veteran free agents have had to settle for much less than they expected, such as Orlando Hudson, who got a $3.38 million base, and Bobby Abreu, who signed for a $5 million base after beginning the offseason in search of a three-year, $48 million contract.
If the Athletics sign Cabrera, he likely would supplant Bobby Crosby as the team's everyday shortstop. It's unclear whether Oakland would be willing to sign both Cabrera and Garciaparra, but given the Athletics' budget restraints, that would seem to be unlikely.
Buster Olney is a senior baseball writer for ESPN The Magazine.
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