Billy Beane Reportedly Expected to Leave A's After 30 Years in OAK Front Office

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 13, 2020

Oakland Athletics minority owner and executive vice president Billy Beane, right, talks with players before the American League wildcard playoff baseball game against the New York Yankees, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, in new York (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

The end of an era may be approaching for the Oakland Athletics.

The Wall Street Journal's Jared Diamond, Joshua Robinson and Miriam Gottfried reported Billy Beane is expected to assume a prominent role with Fenway Sports Group if the company merges with RedBall Acquisition Corp. 

Beane, the executive vice president of baseball operations for the A's, is a co-chairman for RedBall.

According to the WSJ report, MLB's conflict-of-interest rules wouldn't allow Beane to work for the A's—in addition, he is a minority owner—while having an investment stake in the Red Sox. Leaving Oakland altogether would resolve the situation.

And rather than working for the Red Sox, the 58-year-old "would turn his attention to other sports business ventures, particularly European soccer, an area he has demonstrated a passion for in recent years."

In addition to the Red Sox, Fenway Sports Group owns a controlling stake in reigning Premier League champions Liverpool. 

Assuming this is the end for Beane in the Bay Area, his 30-year run will go down in history. Upon the publication of Moneyball in 2003, Beane became the face of baseball's sabermetric revolution.

Since his ascension as Oakland's general manager in 1997, the franchise made 11 postseason appearances despite failing to have a payroll in the top half of MLB. This season, the Athletics won the AL West with a 36-24 record.

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Some will point to the A's only making the American League Championship Series only once as a mark against Beane, and that's a fair critique to some extent. But his influence is evident in how many front offices have used advanced metrics to guide their decision-making.

To some extent, the scope of Beane's impact may not lead to the kind of power vacuum that can arise when a legendary figure leaves a team. The blueprint general manager David Forst uses to continue constructing Oakland's roster probably won't be all that different.

But finding the market inefficiencies and improving around the margins is what the Moneyball strategy was all about. Moneyball never represented one hard and fast strategic approach.

Without Beane's input, continuing to excel in that regard could prove difficult.