PHOENIX — The A's will bring in free agent Orlando Cabrera to be their new starting shortstop, ending months of speculation that the two-time Gold Glover might land in Oakland.
Cabrera's agent, Dan Lozano of the Beverly Hills Sports Council, confirmed Monday that his client and the A's have agreed to a one-year deal for $4 million. Cabrera is likely to join the team Thursday, Lozano said.
His addition means Bobby Crosby — the A's starting shortstop since he won the 2004 American League Rookie of the Year award — moves to the bench, likely becoming the team's utility infielder.
That's a scenario that doesn't sit well with Crosby, who said he'd ask for a trade if the team solicited his thoughts on the subject.
"I feel they obviously decided to go get someone else, and I hope they give me the opportunity to go play shortstop somewhere else," Crosby said in a phone interview, as the A's had the day off Monday. "I've always enjoyed playing in Oakland, but I feel it's in my best interests to play shortstop — if not in Oakland, I hope they give me a chance to play somewhere else."
The A's have been linked to Cabrera since early in the offseason, when they also pursued another free-agent shortstop, Rafael Furcal. Cabrera, 34, had been one of many free agents still unsigned as spring training began, a combination of his high salary demands and a struggling national economy that's made many teams tighten their purse strings.
He reportedly was seeking $9 million on a one-year deal before coming down on his asking price.
"Orlando is extremely excited," Lozano said. "Obviously the market made this offseason very difficult. We had three or four clubs (show interest). The way things played out with opportunity, and the opportunity to win, everything pointed at Oakland."
A's general manager Billy Beane declined comment on Cabrera. But after trading for left fielder Matt Holliday and signing first baseman/DH Jason Giambi, adding Cabrera is another signal the A's believe the AL West title is within reach.
The A's also are still in serious talks with free agent Nomar Garciaparra as a backup corner infielder. They're reportedly also negotiating with reliever Dennys Reyes.
Cabrera, an 11-year veteran, hit .281 with eight homers, 57 RBI and 19 stolen bases last season for the Chicago White Sox. He seems a natural candidate to hit leadoff with the A's.
One scout said he liked Cabrera as a contact hitter and considered him a defensive upgrade over Crosby.
But Cabrera arrives with some baggage. His reputation took a knock last season when he called the press box on more than one occasion during a game to complain about an error he was charged with.
Crosby's career has been sidetracked by injuries, and he's been an inconsistent hitter even when healthy. He's in the final year of a contract that pays him $5.25 million. That salary assures the A's won't release him (they'd be on the hook for it), and likely will make him tough to deal.
Note: A's third baseman Eric Chavez, coming back from right shoulder surgery, told mlb.com that he's been cleared to play defense in a game, but that his debut at third probably wouldn't be until Thursday or Friday.
Contact Joe Stiglich at email@example.com.