A lost season for the Oakland Athletics won't even come with the smallest of feel-good endings: The club released unproductive and oft-injured Jason Giambi on Friday, likely bringing to an end the career of one of the Athletics' most popular players in the late 1990s and early 2000s and one of the centerpieces of baseball's Steroid Era.
Giambi, a five-time American League All-Star and the 2000 AL MVP, was batting .193 with 11 homers and 40 RBI in 83 games this season. He was placed on the disabled list with a strained right quad on July 20. At the time, he had the lowest batting average in the majors among qualifiers and the fourth-lowest slugging percentage in the AL (.364).
"At the end of the day, where we were headed with some young guys and some guys we would like to see the rest of the season, we thought this was an opportune time to do this," Athletics vice-president and general manager Billy Beane said. "Jason struggled, and we thought it was time for us to see our young players."
One of those is Tommy Everidge, who has taken over as Oakland's everyday first baseman after a productive season at Triple-A Sacramento.
"Everyone knows Jason is a great guy," Beane said. "This is not something any of us envisioned. He was upbeat and, as he always does, he thanked us for everything."
Beane said Giambi indicated to him that he intends to continue playing. "I think Jason is one of those guys who will play as long as he possibly can," the GM said. However, given Giambi's lack of productivity, age (38) and nagging injuries, it's hard to see someone rushing to sign him.
There was very little interest in him on the free agent market last winter, and there was no interest in him at the trade deadline last month.
Giambi is a career .282 hitter with 407 homers (tied for 43rd on baseball's all-time list with Duke Snider). He spent eight seasons in Oakland (1995-2001 and 2009) and seven with the Yankees (2002-2008).
"This was difficult because of the person Jason is and his long, successful history here," Beane said. "He's somebody who everybody is very fond of, not just as a player, but as a person.
"These things are never easy."