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Kevin Kouzmanoff thought “where do I fit?” while A’s pursued other third basemen

Jan 12, 2011, 1:46 PM EDT

kevin-kouzmanoff-as Getty Images

Last offseason the A’s acquired Kevin Kouzmanoff from the Padres in the hopes he’d be their long-term answer at third base, but after a career-worst season that saw him hit just .247 with a measly .679 OPS the team claimed Edwin Encarnacion off waivers and made a big offer to free agent Adrian Beltre.

Oakland eventually non-tendered Encarnacion and Beltre signed an $80 million deal with the Rangers, but the team’s pursuit of other third basemen left Kouzmanoff with a bruised ego and questions about his future with the A’s.

Here’s some of what Kouzmanoff told Jane Lee of MLB.com about the situation:

I knew the A’s had some money to spend. Beltre’s a good ballplayer, and he was in high demand. There I am kind of sitting off to the side thinking, “Where do I fit? Obviously, the A’s don’t really like me that much at third base if they’re trying to get another third baseman.” But at the same time, I’m also realizing it’s just business, and if they can lock someone down for a certain number of years, an All-Star third baseman who can hit 25 to 30 home runs in the Coliseum, then I really have no say in it.

I think if they were happy with me at third base, they wouldn’t consider going out and getting someone else. I knew for sure that if they were going to get Beltre that I was gone. I’m still here, though, and I want to do the best I can. I’ve worked hard this offseason. I’m hitting baseballs, trying to get faster, getting in good shape. I want to prove to them that I can play third base just as good as anybody else. I feel great.

All things considered Kouzmanoff has handled the situation pretty well, and made it clear to Lee that he was as disappointed as anyone with his performance last season. Oakland may have missed out on Beltre and decided against keeping Encarnacion, but if Kouzmanoff doesn’t bounce back significantly this season they’ll likely cut him loose next winter regardless of the other options at third base. He’s due for a raise to $4-5 million via arbitration this year and would be even more expensive in 2012.

  1. Joe - Jan 12, 2011 at 2:00 PM

    Query: We always hear about players getting in shape in the offseason. When do they have a chance to get out of shape? I don’t see out of shape players on the field in September. Do they just sit on their asses and eat Twinkies for two months? How out of shape can they be?

    KFP excepted, of course.

  2. fuggles7 - Jan 12, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    But is he in “The best shape of his life”??

  3. icanspeel - Jan 12, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    The A’s are starting to realize what the Padres learned and that is Kevin Kouzmanoff just isn’t very good. He has occasional power, but strikes out quite a bit and is better off a utility player than everyday starter

  4. spudchukar - Jan 12, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    The “Crushin’ Russian” is unfortunately a misnomer. His lack of power/productivity continues to define him. When lumbering and spraying are terms used to describe your talents you have problems. Perhaps a career in forestry is the answer.

    • Susan Lulgjuraj - Jan 13, 2011 at 10:31 PM

      He’s also not Russian.

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