Could the Athletics be stealth contenders for Masahiro Tanaka? A Major League executive tells Bill Madden of the New York Daily News to "watch out for Oakland" as a suitor for the Japanese right-hander. "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," the exec said. Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com explores the possibility of Tanaka joining the A's and thinks the executive might've just been speculating, but while he feels it's unlikely the A's can outbid the field for Tanaka, Stiglich notes the A's have already made some surprising moves this winter "so no sort of Tanaka speculation should come as a complete shocker."
Here's some more from the AL West…
- Speaking of Tanaka, ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required) opines that "he would be absolutely perfect for" the Astros. Tanaka is young enough that he'll be in his prime when Houston will theoretically be able to contend, and the Astros can afford to make a big contract offer since they have so few long-term payroll commitments.
- Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle breaks down the question of whether the Astros should trade or extend catcher Jason Castro. There's clear value to keeping a cost-controlled, power-hitting catcher on one-year deals through arbitration, and yet without an extension, a trade becomes more logical the closer Castro gets to free agency.
- Trading for outfielder Michael Choice "was the best move made by the Rangers this winter," opines MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan as part of a reader mailbag. Sullivan sees Choice as a candidate to help the team in 2014 and take over as Alex Rios' replacement in 2015. Texas acquired Choice as part of the deal that sent Craig Gentry to Oakland last month.
- The Rangers drafted Jameis Winston in the 15th round of the 2012 draft and Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News talks to Texas assistant GM A.J. Preller and other club personnel about how serious Texas was about signing Winston and still letting him play football for Florida State. Winston, of course, is quarterbacking FSU against Auburn in tonight's national championship game and says he aims to be a two-sport star a la Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders. Winston is next eligible for the MLB draft in 2015.
- In other AL West news from earlier today, the Mariners will need approval from ownership before going ahead with any more big moves, and the M's signed catcher Humberto Quintero to a minor league deal.
MLBTR's Zach Links also contributed to this post