The A's have declined to exercise their $3 million option on reliever Alan Embree for the 2009 season, making the veteran left-hander a free agent.

Embree, 38, signed a two-year deal with the A's before the 2007 season with a club option for a third season and led the team that year with 17 saves, filling in admirably when closer Huston Street was injured.

His performance dipped in 2008, however, as he posted a 2-5 record with a 4.96 ERA in 70 relief appearances.

As the A's began turning to young relievers such as Joey Devine, Brad Ziegler and Jerry Blevins in key situations, it was clear Embree didn't figure prominently in the plans for 2009.

He wasn't shocked by Friday's decision nor was he looking for sympathy.

"I'm playing one more season," Embree said in a phone interview. "I get to pick my own fate to finish it out, to find the best situation that's suited to me. I have nothing but good things to say about (Oakland's) front office and team. I knew around the All-Star break that I probably wouldn't be back."

A's assistant general manager David Forst praised Embree for his contributions the past two seasons and said the team is open to re-signing him at a lower price.

Embree didn't close that door and said he'd even enjoy returning to Oakland someday as a coach. But he's confident there will be interest from other teams looking for an experienced lefty reliever.


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He's 37-43 with 25 saves and a 4.55 ERA in 14-plus major league seasons. His 846 appearances are tied with Doug Jones for 33rd all-time.

Street remains a trade possibility, and his name figures to come up as A's front-office members head to the annual GM meetings that run Monday-Thursday at Dana Point. The winter meetings take place Dec. 8-11 in Las Vegas.

Notes: Designated hitter Frank Thomas and outfielder Emil Brown have filed for free agency, and reliever Keith Foulke is expected to do so. Brown and Foulke figure to move on, and Thomas is a long shot to return. "... The A's claimed infielder Joe Dillon off waivers from Milwaukee.

Contact Joe Stiglich at jstiglic@bayareanewsgroup.com.