Giambi came up through the ranks with Oakland and eventually won the 2000 American League MVP award in green and gold before leaving for the New York Yankees.
Johnson was born and raised in the East Bay, so returning to his stomping grounds would seem a fitting end to his Hall of Fame career.
Both are free agents this winter, often mentioned in the same breath with the A's. But as the annual winter meetings wrap up Thursday in Las Vegas, the competition for Giambi and Johnson is materializing, and it's clear that nostalgia alone won't bring either to Oakland.
There's also plenty of interest in free agent shortstop Rafael Furcal, a player the A's aren't waving the white flag on just yet.
Any of the three would fit nicely with the A's. But as potential suitors are forming a line for their services, general manager Billy Beane said it doesn't alter the A's thought process as they prepare to leave Sin City.
"Our approach on free agency in general is we're going to do what we can do," Beane said. "Either it's going to work or not going to work. We're not going to let outside dynamics dictate what we can pay, or what we're going to give up."
Although CC Sabathia agreed to his mega-deal with the New York Yankees on Wednesday, these meetings haven't generated many fireworks, which isn't a surprise considering teams' worries about the national economy.
"It's slow," Beane said. "There's not a lot of trade talk either. Most teams seem to be holding tight or reducing payroll."
Beane acknowledged the A's are still talking with Furcal, who rejected a reported four-year deal from them last week.
Johnson's agents consider the A's a team in play for the 45-year-old left-hander from Livermore.
As for Giambi, Beane shot down speculation that the first baseman/DH was on the verge of signing with Oakland.
That doesn't mean something can't happen later in the winter. But the A's have their work cut out with any of the potential signees.
Barry Meister, one of Johnson's co-agents, said several teams in search of a lefty starter already were shifting some attention to Johnson after Sabathia was signed. Reports have the Milwaukee Brewers, Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels among the teams showing interest in the Big Unit.
Meister said he expects to talk formally with the A's at some point but added Wednesday that "they have another issue they're working on that's a little more pressing."
That presumably referred to Furcal, also being courted by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals, who entered the picture Wednesday.
It's unclear how the A's may have re-tailored their offer to Furcal, which was reported to originally be in the range of $35-40 million, or how their chances stack up against the other teams.
Regardless, Meister expects to talk more with the A's about Johnson.
"(Other) teams have been more aggressive, but it's not to the point that me and Billy have lost ground by not meeting."
The A's seem a natural landing spot for Giambi, but the Tampa Bay Rays have emerged as a contender for him. A photo of Giambi and Rays manager Joe Maddon posing together at a Las Vegas steakhouse even made its way to the Internet.
On a much smaller scale, it's believed the A's are interested in signing former Giant right-hander Kevin Correia to a minor league deal. Correia went 3-8 with a 6.05 ERA in 25 games with the Giants in 2008.
The winter meetings wrap with Thursday's Rule 5 draft, where teams can select minor league players from other teams who aren't protected by their organizations.
Contact Joe Stiglich at email@example.com.