Athletics

Beane: Signing A's young core long-term is already being discussed

Beane: Signing A's young core long-term is already being discussed

OAKLAND — Judging from the comments of Billy Beane and David Forst during their season-ending press conference Monday, it’s obvious the A’s top two baseball officials are pleased with the long-range direction their club is headed.

That plan definitely includes locking up some of their young cornerstone players with long-term contracts at some point, and Beane says those conversations already are happening.

“First, we want to make sure we’re identifying the right guys,” said Beane, Oakland’s executive VP of baseball operations. “I’ll just say it’s probably a conversation we’ve already started. We’ve had that discussion already. It’s going to be important for us to do it.”

Surely such talk is music to the ears of A’s fans who have grown accustomed to watching the team’s top players either get traded or sign with other teams in free agency. Signing multiple young players to long-term deals would represent a shift in organizational philosophy.

But that’s exactly what A’s president Dave Kaval, the front office and manager Bob Melvin have been talking about throughout this past season — there’s a commitment that things will be run differently and the A’s will try to retain some of their best talent moving forward.

However, the execution will be tricky given the team isn’t planning for its new ballpark to open until 2023, and that’s assuming no hurdles delay the project. Beane talks about the need to have a competitive team stocked with homegrown players ready by the time the A’s move into that ballpark. But how can the team start making a financial commitment to players when that anticipated ballpark is still so far down the road?

“When you’re talking about building a club for a stadium that’s six years off, and if you’re talking about locking them up, then you’re looking to have to lock them up for a long time,” Beane said. “So that’s sort of the trick and the balance that we have to address this offseason, if we’re going to embark on that.

“I think right now we’ve just got to operate that (the ballpark) is going to happen (on time). The other option is one we’ve done my entire career here, which is constant churn. I’m churned out.”

The young players that figure to warrant consideration for long-term deals include, but aren’t relegated to, designated hitter Ryon Healy, third baseman Matt Chapman, first baseman Matt Olson and utility man Chad Pinder. And it’s not like they all have to be inked right away.

Healy, Olson and Pinder won’t even become eligible for salary arbitration until the winter before the 2020 season. They’ll be due for free agency heading into the 2023 season, and Chapman’s timeline is a year behind those three. On the flip side, the earlier the A’s can get guys locked up, the more team-friendly those deals are likely to be from a cost standpoint.

It’s the young core of position-player talent, and the belief that other top prospects (pitchers and hitters) aren’t far away from the bigs, that drives the A’s optimism. A 17-7 finish put a positive spin on a 75-87 overall record and another last-place finish in the AL West.

One area the A’s will certainly look to address this offseason is their starting rotation, which could use a veteran innings-eater. But Beane and Forst were pleased with how several of their young prospects emerged and complemented productive veterans such as Khris Davis, Jed Lowrie and Matt Joyce.

“We have a long way to go, but anytime you have young players, you have a chance to get better,” Forst said. “I don’t think we put any ceiling on that. I think we wait and see where it goes. But these guys believe in themselves. They have a manager that believes in them, and they have talent. So all of those things go a long way toward getting better.”

POLL: A's Memorable Moments -- Braden's Perfect Game vs Long's game-saving catch in Fenway

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AP

POLL: A's Memorable Moments -- Braden's Perfect Game vs Long's game-saving catch in Fenway

PROGRAMMING NOTE: NBC Sports California is looking back at the A's 50 Memorable Moments since the franchise relocated to Oakland in 1968. Below are the next two moments you can vote on. Tune into A's Pregame Live tonight at 6:30pm to watch highlights of the two moments. After the A's and Padres conclude, tune into A's Postgame Live to see which moment will move on to the next round!

1. Dallas Braden's Perfect Game on Mother's Day 2010 (11-time winner -- Defeated The Big Three's sweep of the D'backs in Arizona in 2001)

(From Dallas Braden)

Well, they haven’t taken it away yet so I guess it might not be a dream after all. It’s still insane to think that on such a special day for so many people, my teammates and I were able to etch ourselves into the hearts of A’s fans everywhere.

In the moment, I had no clue. At the same time, I was fully aware. Completely focused and emotionally distracted at the same time. Hell, I talked myself into the wrong count in the last at-bat of the game. The 27th out. In that moment I had no clue. No clue I’d become the vehicle for such an emotional moment shared between mothers and their families across baseball that special day. I do believe that’s what I was -- merely a vehicle to connect people through our beautiful game. My mom, along with the baseball gods, and Landon Powell, I guess, all steered us down the path of history and to be able to share and relive those special moments and memories is a blessing a young little leaguer can only dream of.

I hope that through my passion for the game you feel the same love I, myself, my wife, baby girl, and grandmother have felt from each of you, the fans of the Green & Gold. We couldn’t be happier to share this Mother’s Day and every Mother’s Day from here on out, TOGETHER! It’s a perfect fit if you ask me.

VS.

2. Terrence Long's game-saving catch over the wall at Fenway in 2002

(From Ben Ross)

On August 7, 2002, Terrence Long stunned Fenway Park and the entire city of Boston. With two on and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, and the A's clinging to a 3-2 lead over the Red Sox, Manny Ramirez sent a fly ball deep to right-center field. Long took off from his position in center field and made a leaping catch over the wall to preserve the win for Oakland.

Long was immediately tackled by fellow outfielder Jermaine Dye in celebration. Closer Billy Koch was so happy, he ran all the way to the outfield to give Long a bear hug.

Six days later, the A's would begin their historic 20-game win streak. They would go on to win the AL West with a record of 103-59.

VOTE HERE:

In all the whispers of a Giants-A's management shuffle, one notion stands out

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USATSI

In all the whispers of a Giants-A's management shuffle, one notion stands out

The San Francisco Chronicle shares with us the thinking of an unthinkable notion.

Brian Sabean, Oakland A's general manager.

But first, a bit of fairness. The author, Susan Slusser, who knows the A’s well enough to perform elective surgery on most of the executives and all the players, doesn’t say this will happen, should happen or even might happen. Indeed, she slides the notion neatly into paragraph 14 and describes the scenario as “whispers . . . within both teams.”

But the Giants’ baseball brainbuckets, Sabean, Bobby Evans and Bruce Bochy all have contracts that expire next year, and A’s owner John Fisher is remaking the organization’s front office all around the baseball folks, and one can fairly assume that he’ll get around to them if the results aren’t more invigorating in a hinders-in-seats kind of way.

So some folks see a potential resource swap in each team’s future, though there are contractual and emotional complications galore, starting with this seemingly obvious one:

Larry Baer and Billy Beane would work together with the same mutual devotion typically found in firemen and arsonists. That seems monumentally unlikely, Beane would have to divest his ownership stake in the A’s (millions are just a phone call away, of course), and Slusser does not offer that as a potential scenario.

But maybe it isn’t Beane but Forst whom Baer might covet. A job with resources might interest Forst, but his loyalty to Beane has precluded such a notion to date. Beane, for his part, might decide it’s time to become full Johnny Soccer and become more involved with Barnsley, the English team of which he owns a slice, and AZ Alkmaar, the Dutch team for which he offers consultations at the standard rate.

As to the reverse, it is hard to imagine Sabean or Bochy starting over, either in Oakland for the spectral John Fisher or anywhere else, given that Sabean would be 62 and Bochy 64. Their ages aren’t the disqualifiers, though; the mileage is. Bochy will have managed just over 4,100 games by the end of next year, seventh on the all-time list, and Sabean will have run a ballclub longer than anyone but Branch Rickey and Ed Barrow. To go across the bay to supervise the transition to a new ballpark for an apparently undercapitalized (by baseball standards) boss they barely know seems nearly preposterous.

It’s a provocative thought, of course, or rather, set of thoughts, and by no means is it inconceivable. But like most thoughts, clearing the “inconceivable” bar is light years from “this makes perfect sense.” Baer’s main goal has been to drive the A’s into the sea, and not by poaching its people, and Fisher would seem to want a fresh start, based on his recent front office changes.

But there’s one notion that doesn’t actually touch this story directly, and it is this. If Fisher is thinking of changing the baseball operation as he has the rest of the hierarchy, it would be an indication that intends to keep the A’s rather than sell them, at least any time soon. There would be no value in making such dramatic changes only to have a new owner come in and make them again.

So maybe those are the whispers that should be whispered – that the A’s makeover leads to an idea that they are not longing for the badlands of Portland or Charlotte after all. If that is the case, that would be a bigger development than the notion that they could conceivably raid the bully across the bridge for baseball talent.