The A's face a crucial decision in whether to re-sign left fielder Josh Willingham, a potential free agent who could be one of the more enticing outfielders available this winter.

Willingham, 32, leads the A's in homers (22) and RBIs (73). Though he's hitting just .249, he fills a void as the type of right-handed power hitter the team is perpetually searching for.

Acquired from the Washington Nationals in December for reliever Henry Rodriguez and outfielder Corey Brown, Willingham says he would like to return to Oakland.

His agent, Matt Sosnick, says Willingham seeks a two- to three-year contract and that the ball is in the A's court.

"I think his inclination would be to stay here, if it's something that could get done by the end of the season," Sosnick said. "If not, he's going to go out and really explore his options."

Therein lies the rub.

The A's have six potential free agents -- Willingham and fellow outfielders Coco Crisp and David DeJesus; designated hitter Hideki Matsui; first baseman/outfielder Conor Jackson; and starting pitcher Rich Harden.

Team officials have said they won't decide whether to re-sign anybody until after the season.

And though teams get a five-day window after the World Series to negotiate exclusively with their own free agents, the A's will have more difficulty signing Willingham if that window passes and other teams get a crack at him.