News that the A's have signed Yoenis Cespedes to a 4 year, $36M deal has Oakland fans legitimately excited. It's also another move that smacks of confidence that the team will get the go ahead to build a new stadium soon, though Lew Wolff recently acknowledged that in regards to San Jose, "soon" probably meant for the 2016 season. So how does Cespedes, a 26-year old OFer under contract through 2015, fit in with the hopes of building a new stadium to move into for the 2016 campaign?
My first thought is that the A's see their "window" of contention starting, if all goes according to plan, in 2014.
By 2014, the Rangers could be vulnerable again with Josh Hamilton likely gone, Michael Young's career likely winding down as he turns 38, and Adrian Beltre's contract starting to shift from a good one to a not-so-good one (similar to Torii Hunter's, a calculated 5-year deal that paid off early and then predictably didn't feel so good later).
Meanwhile, if the A's let Jarrod Parker and Brad Peacock get their feet wet in 2012 they, along with Tom Milone, could form a "young veteran" trio in 2014 (ideally behind Brett Anderson), followed by Sonny Gray, a likely 2013 arrival, with plenty still in the pipeline for 2015 and beyond -- specifically A.J. Cole and Raul Alcantara, along with possibly Michel Ynoa. By 2014, Cespedes and Choice could be joining Weeks as an actually formidable offensive trio, something the A's haven't had since the Chavez, Tejada, Giambi years.
But what about the fact that come 2014, the A's won't be moving into their new stadium -- assuming they do move into one -- for another two years? I've never seen the goal as having to be "Start contention the year you move in." Much better to arrive a contender. First of all, attendance patterns are well known: Attendance lags a year behind the success or failure of a team. The A's want to move into a new stadium known as "that winning team that's coming!" and Cespedes gives them a better chance to do it.
Finally, the A's stated goal all along has been to increase payroll, and specifically to keep their good talent, as a by-product of getting a new stadium. If Cespedes is under contract as the A's are moving into a new stadium, and is a big part of their current success, the A's have every chance to keep him beyond 2015 because they'll know their stadium situation, and thus their increased payroll flexibility, long before Cespedes is a free agent.
For the first time in a while, the future is looking bright -- and perhaps it's only a couple years away.