Oakland's motive for the Cespedes deal

Updated: February 14, 2012, 2:41 PM ET
By Buster Olney

It's not only casual baseball fans who view the Oakland Athletics' offseason as an unsolvable logic maze. Some rival talent evaluators puzzled and puzzled until their puzzlers were sore on Monday night, after word broke that the Athletics had signed 26-year-old outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $36 million deal.

After all, Oakland traded two good young starting pitchers for prospects -- first Trevor Cahill and then Gio Gonzalez -- reducing its ability to contend with the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels in the next couple of seasons. And now the Athletics have paid a premium to Cespedes, giving an unproven outfielder who is older than either Cahill or Gonzalez more money than they've committed to any other player in their organization.

But there is common thread to all of it, and you can sum it up with four numbers: 2. 0. 1. 5.

As in the year 2015. Everything the Athletics are doing is being funneled into 2015, or thereabouts.

The earliest they could probably open a new San Jose ballpark, if the commissioner's office forces or negotiates with the San Francisco Giants to give up the territorial rights to that city, would be in 2015.