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Oakland Athletics' Josh Willingham connects for a solo home run off Detroit Tigers' starting pitcher Doug Fister in the second inning of a MLB game at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 16, 2011. (Ray Chavez/Staff)

The agent for A's left fielder Josh Willingham gave the strongest indication yet Monday that the slugger won't re-sign with the team.

"My best guess is he will probably sign a three-year deal, and probably not with Oakland," agent Matt Sosnick told this newspaper. "I just don't think that's the position the A's are in right now."

Willingham, 32, who led the A's with 29 homers and 98 RBIs in 2011, is eligible for free agency for the first time and is considered the top left fielder available should he hit the open market. Teams have until Thursday to negotiate exclusively with their own free agents, after which players can sign with any team.

A's general manager Billy Beane didn't deny that he's likely to lose his most dangerous hitter. He reiterated the A's will hold off on decisions to re-sign their own free agents until they hear from Major League Baseball whether they can build a stadium in San Jose. MLB commissioner Bud Selig has sat on that decision for more than 21/2 years, and though there are no signs of an upcoming announcement, Beane remains optimistic of getting word soon.

The A's other four free agents are outfielders Coco Crisp and David DeJesus, designated hitter Hideki Matsui and right-hander Rich Harden.

"It doesn't mean we wouldn't circle back at some point (and negotiate with those players)," Beane said. "But as of right now, we're in wait-and-see mode."


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Losing Willingham would leave a huge void for a team that ranked 12th out of 14 American League teams in runs scored. His 98 RBIs were the most by an Athletic since Frank Thomas had 114 in 2006.

Sosnick said he expects Willingham to sign with a team closer to his home in Florence, Ala., because the travel back and forth to Oakland was difficult for Willingham's wife, Ginger, and their two young sons.

"Ultimately money will talk," Sosnick said. "But I think all things being equal, they would choose to (sign with a team) in the South or Midwest."