Billy Beane reportedly could soon leave the A's after spending over 30 years in Oakland's front office.
Beane, the A's executive vice president of baseball operations and owner of a minority stake in the franchise, will leave Oakland's front office if his special purpose acquisition company completes a merger with Fenway Sports Group, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
Fenway Sports Group owns the Boston Red Sox and reigning Premier League champions Liverpool, and The Journal reported that Beane will shift his attention to "other sports business ventures, particularly European soccer," if RedBall Acquisition Corp. successfully merges with FSG.
Beane joined the A's front office in 1990 as a major league advance scout, rising to general manager after the 1997 season. He turned Oakland's front office into one of the sport's most pioneering, with the team's leading role in baseball's analytics revolution documented in Michael Lewis' 2003 behind-the-scenes book, "Moneyball."
In 2002, Beane turned down an offer to become the Red Sox general manager, remaining with the A's and parlaying Boston owner John Henry's offer into a small ownership stake with Oakland. Eighteen years later, Henry could get his man as he endeavors to turn FSG into a publicly-traded company by merging with Beane's SPAC.
Beane has long had interest in international soccer, owning a 5 percent share of Dutch club AZ Alkmaar and serving as an investor of second-division English side Barnsley. It's RedBall's potential ties with the Red Sox, however, that would require Beane to leave the A's.
“It seems like a clear conflict,” Jason Dana, an associate professor of management and marketing at Yale School of Management, told Bloomberg in an email Saturday. “A person couldn’t, for example, own two different MLB teams. For the same reasons, this seems to open up the possibility of coordination between two teams, which is bad for the game.”
If Beane does leave the A's, general manager David Forst would be the obvious candidate as his successor. Forst succeeded Beane as general manager in 2015, and he worked as an assistant general manager for 12 seasons.