We’re closing in on the two week mark before the bidding process for Masahiro Tanaka comes to a close, and for the most part, it’s been a lot of the same teams as being mentioned in the mix. The common favorites appear to be the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Chicago Cubs, with a team like the Arizona Diamondbacks also rumored to be serious about signing him.
However, it seems to be even more common which team has been labeled as a sleeper in all of this, and it began before Tanaka was even posted. Word around the league is don’t sleep on the Oakland Athletics to sign the Japanese right hander, despite their status as a team to build from within. With plenty of payroll flexibility and being on the West Coast, it’s feasible that it could be the A’s to land Tanaka.
As featured in Bill Madden’s article in the New York Daily News:
“Watch out for Oakland,” the exec said. “They’ve got as much money as any team and they like doing these big international things — as with their signing of (Yoenis) Cespedes and the fact they were second to the Reds for Aroldis Chapman five years ago.”
It wouldn’t be any sort of major coupe for the A’s to sign Tanaka, other than the fact that they’d beat out two of the largest payrolls in all of baseball to do so. But they’re a contending team, and a California team. Tanaka is believed to want to sign with someone on the West Coast. Given how close the A’s are, they wouldn’t have to do too much in order to persuade Tanaka to come to Oakland. In fact, other teams would have to work harder than them.
This is certainly an interesting development. Along with the Diamondbacks, the A’s represent the smaller market contingent that is in on Masahiro Tanaka. Whether or not they’ll be able to topple the likes of New York or the Dodgers in the Tanaka sweepstakes remains to be seen, of course.