The A's continued lighting up the transaction wire Friday, claiming third baseman Edwin Encarnacion off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Indications are he's a strong candidate to start at third next season, which signals the A's might cut ties with incumbent third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff.

Encarnacion, 27, hit just .244 last season, but his 21 homers (in just 96 major league games) would have led the A's.

Power is the team's biggest need, and it's believed the A's also have strong interest in free agents Lance Berkman and Hideki Matsui. The team as a policy doesn't comment on specific free agents.

Assistant general manager David Forst was asked if he sees Encarnacion competing for the third base job.

"I think we're (three) months away from spring training," Forst said. "We obviously have him and Kooz on the roster right now. We have to make some decisions."

Those decisions must come soon, with Dec. 2 the deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. Encarnacion made $4.75 million last season; Kouzmanoff $3.1 million. Both are eligible for arbitration, and considering they each hit right-handed, it's unlikely both would be kept.

Kouzmanoff, 29, hit .247 with a team-high 16 homers and 71 RBIs in 2010.

Encarnacion had two DL stints last season because of shoulder and wrist injuries. He hit a career-high 26 homers in 2008 and is a .258 career hitter.

Kouzmanoff is better defensively, but the A's might sacrifice with the glove to add pop offensively.

Kouzmanoff would become a free agent if he isn't tendered a contract, though the A's could work a trade.

Oakland was linked to Matsui, 36, last winter before he signed with the Angels and hit .274 with 21 homers and 84 RBIs. Berkman, 34, had 14 homers and 58 RBIs with the Astros and Yankees.

In other news, the A's promoted Rick Rodriguez to be their new bullpen coach.