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Common sense suggests it can’t happen. Past history suggests we shouldn’t completely count it out.
The A’s are being mentioned in the same sentence with Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, the top international free agent available this winter.
Believe it … or not?
Well, if it’s going to take a seven-year deal in the neighborhood of $100 million -- parameters that the folks at mlbtraderumors.com believe is possible -- forget about it. Oakland has never been known to spend that kind of cash.
At the very least, Tomas -- who turns 24 on Friday and projects as a power-hitting corner outfielder -- is said to be looking for a contract that tops the six-year, $72.5 million deal that Boston gave Rusney Castillo in August. That’s the record for a Cuban defector signing with a major league team.
It’s unknown if Tomas wants to exceed that total amount given to Castillo or just the average annual amount -- about $12 million per season. Either way, it seems a stretch for the A’s, whose Opening Day payroll last season came in at $82.3 million.
But we’re in that stage of the year in A’s Land where the bizarre and unexpected often ends up coming to fruition. Let’s remember what happened three years ago, when Oakland wasn’t even mentioned as a player for another Cuban sensation, Yoenis Cespedes. They nonetheless swooped in and signed Cespedes to a four-year, $36 million contract.
Part of the appeal of that deal for Cespedes was a clause that will allow him to become a free agent after just four years of big league service time. Might Tomas lower his demands a bit and accept a shorter-team deal for less money if it allows him to become a free agent earlier than the normal six-year mark? It might take such a clause for the A’s to have any chance.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the A’s have heavily scouted Tomas over the past year-and-a-half. His agent, Jay Alou Jr., reportedly will meet with four teams in the Dominican Republic over the next couple of days, and mlbtraderumors.com suggests that three teams would be seen as “very unlikely” candidates.
It might help the A’s cause that Cespedes, by all accounts, had a positive experience in Green and Gold before he was traded to Boston last July for starter Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes. Surely, word travels to other Cuban players who have defected from their home country and are looking to make the jump to the major leagues, as Tomas is.
Also interesting to note: The Giants are among the several teams being linked to Tomas, and there’s a connection there as Alou Jr. is the nephew of former Giants manager Felipe Alou, who still works with the club.
No doubt, there are lots of factors working against the A’s in signing Tomas. But we’ve learned never to say never with this club. And surely this won’t be the only wild rumor that Oakland is linked to this winter.