The “Moneyball” era may finally be coming to an end in Oakland.
Billy Beane is set to step down from his position in the Athletics’ front office once the merger goes through between a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) he co-chairs and Boston Red Sox owner John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The merger would cause a conflict of interest for Beane, who owns a minority stake in the A’s as well.
Beane partnered with a private-equity firm in July to found RedBall Acquisition Corporation, an SPAC that set out to raise $500 million to go toward purchasing professional sports teams and/or leagues. Its deal with Fenway Sports Group, which the WSJ reports will cost Henry’s group $8 billion for a 25 percent stake, would allow Beane to pursue “other sports business ventures” including European soccer.
Henry has attempted to lure Beane to Boston for the better part of 20 years, first trying in 2002 to pry him away from Oakland by offering to make him the highest-paid GM in MLB history. Beane was offered a five-year, $12.5 million deal to join the Red Sox, but he declined in order to spend more time with his teenage daughter. In the 18 years since, Boston has won four World Series. The A’s have won zero.
The longtime baseball executive is credited with being an early adopter of the sabermetric movement. His strategy of using analytics to pinpoint market inefficiencies and translate them into on-field success became the industry standard across MLB front offices. He was played by Brad Pitt in the movie “Moneyball” (2011), which was based on the Michael Lewis book of the same name.
The 58-year-old will now join Henry’s ownership group, which already owns the English Premier League’s reigning champion Liverpool in addition to the Red Sox. Beane is a minority owner of both England’s Barnsley Football Club and the Dutch club AZ Alkmaar. It’s not clear what exactly his role will be with Fenway Sports Group, but all signs appear to point toward him leaving baseball behind.