Athletics

Beane staying with A's, won't confirm merger fell through

Athletics
Billy Beane, A's

Ever since the Wall Street Journal dropped a bombshell report in October that Billy Beane could be leaving the A’s due to a conflict of interest, we haven’t heard much from Oakland’s executive vice president of baseball operations.

Beane told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami he will run the A's this this year, but he didn't confirm Bloomberg's Monday report that a proposed merger of Beane's company collapsed.

“Oh, yes, yeah, yeah, absolutely, yeah,” Beane said. “Again, that’s in my plan. As you probably know, I don’t pay a whole lot of attention [to reports] … so sometimes [when] I get questions about things or things that have been written, it’s the first time I’ve heard it.

“But yeah, looking forward to the same alignment that we’ve always had and hopefully the same success we’ve had the last few years.”

Beane was expected to leave his post with the A’s since his Special Purpose Acquisition Group, RedBall, was reportedly in talks to merge with John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group. Since Henry’s organization is the parent company of the Boston Red Sox, Beane would have been prohibited from having an interest in both MLB franchises.

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But Bloomberg reported Monday that the potential $8 billion merger broke down, citing a source. Beane is prohibited from discussing the negotiation, so he couldn't confirm the news.

Instead of playing with billions and getting into the sports franchise acquisition business with FSG, which also is the parent company of Premier League club Liverpool, Beane will oversee another season shaping a squad with one of MLB’s lowest payrolls.

On Tuesday, free agents Marcus Semien and Tommy La Stella signed with other teams while top available shortstop option Andrelton Simmons was swooped up by the Minnesota Twins. The A’s are yet to sign any impactful free agents this winter and have mostly stood on the sidelines while watching other top talent like closer Liam Hendriks leave.

Even though Kawakami’s interview occurred before Semien’s deal was announced, Beane admitted the front office is weary of the shortstop situation heading into 2021.

“Right now, it’s an unanswered question that, to be totally frank with you, I think we’re a little bit concerned with,” Beane said.

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Such has been the story for A’s player movement during Beane’s tenure, which was first made famous in "Moneyball," Michael Lewis' 2003 book, and the subsequent movie adaptation starring Brad Pitt. 

“It wears you out a little bit, no question,” Beane said. “It wears you out for a second and then you become motivated to try and do it again. And one of the time periods I’m really proud of what we accomplished was, you go back to the ’12, ’13, ’14 seasons, where we made the playoffs. At the end of that year, we knew internally that that was kind of it for that crew. And then I go out and make a bonehead trade with Josh Donaldson and then you couple losing players with trading one of your best players and don’t get necessarily the [proper] return.”

Props to Beane for his honesty and candor in this conversation, about his past dealings and the uncertainty for the A’s heading into 2021.