At least one baseball executive believes that the Oakland Athletics are a strong candidate to sign Masahiro Tanaka, reports Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. "Watch out for Oakland," the executive told the Daily News. "They’ve got as much money as any team and they like doing these big international things." Oakland has made pushes for big-name imports, signing Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year deal prior to the 2012 season and falling just short to the Reds in the race for Aroldis Chapman. Last year, the team also signed Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima to a contract worth $6.5 million for two years. Tanaka is a whole different beast compared to those players, however. With the signing team only required to pay $20 million to the Rakuten Golden Eagles, his contract will likely be one of the largest signed this offseason. Most are projecting Tanaka to receive over $100 million on his contract. Oakland has gone as high as $79 million on their payroll in the last decade, but were around $62 million last season. The team has very little guaranteed contracts moving forward, with $43.6 million currently owed in player contracts next season to seven players. After the 2014 season, only Cespedes and Scott Kazmir have any guaranteed money remaining. Cespedes is owed $10.5 million in 2015 while Kazmir will be in the final year of a two-year, $22 million deal signed this offseason. Thus, the team has plenty of flexibility to work in a major deal to Tanaka.
Athletics a dark horse for Japanese ace
SB Nation | Jan 7