Athletics rumors: Yunel Escobar, Stephen Drew, Hiroyuki Nakajima

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

Oakland is casting a very wide net in their search for a new shortstop.

The Oakland Athletics are interested in several of the available shortstops, including Yunel Escobar of the Miami Marlins and free agents Stephen Drew and Hiroyuki Nakajima, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle:

By Monday evening, Oakland already was in action and exploring a potential deal for Miami shortstop Yunel Escobar, a player about whom the team had inquired at the trade deadline, when Escobar was in Toronto.

Talks are "ongoing," according to major-league sources…

Drew remains Oakland's top free-agent target, but Drew might be out of the team's price range, particularly if he is looking for three years or more...

The other free-agent possibility, according to Beane, is Japanese free agent Hiroyuki Nakajima.

According to Slusser's sources, Oakland has done their due diligence with the 30-year-old Escobar in terms of looking into his behavioral issues -- which have been well documented -- but are still interested in signing the Cuban shortstop. After a strong first full season in Toronto in 2011, Escobar struggled this past season, hitting just .253/.300/.344 in 145 games before being traded to the Marlins last month. The A's trade talks with Escobar are not believed to involve anyone on Oakland's big-league roster.

While talks with the Marlins about Escobar are still ongoing, Oakland GM Billy Beane plans to meet with Stephen Drew's agent "sooner rather than later."

Nakajima, 30, is reportedly seeking playing time more than a big pay day, so Oakland could be a solid landing spot if they cannot come to terms with either Escobar or Drew. The NPB veteran negotiated with the Yankees last season after New York won his bidding rights, but was unable to come to a deal with him.

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