It was announced Friday that Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Billy Beane is transitioning to a new position — senior advisor to managing partner John Fisher. He will “work closely with Fisher on strategic decisions,” according to the press release, and will also support the work of the baseball operations now headed by General Manager David Forrest.
“Billy was and always will be an athlete,” Fischer said in a statement in today’s press release. “He is a trusted advisor and I look forward to continuing to work closely with him on strategic initiatives that impact our club. This ownership-level position allows Bailey to pursue other sporting interests than baseball while continuing to play an important role with the A and I. I am also excited to have him work David Forrest is now President of Baseball Operations, while still continuing his long and successful partnership with Bailey.”
Prior to this transition, Beane was the longest serving baseball operations captain in the sport, having ascended to the position of general manager back in 1997. (That distinction now rests with Yankees GM Brian Cashman, who has managed baseball operations in the Bronx since 1998. ) Although Beane’s Athletics have never won a World Series, they have been a remarkably competitive club over the years despite operating under some of the strictest salary constraints in the game.
The A’s are one of three teams that have never reached $100 million in payroll in a season — arguably one of two the Pirates were wrongly rounding away from $100 million in 2016 when they had $99.945 million. Only Oakland and Tampa Bay didn’t come within a stone’s throw of $100 million. The Athletics’ Opening Day payroll was $92.2 million in 2019.
Although it has rarely been able to retain its homegrown stars and what appears on the surface to be a level-of-ownership aversion to expanding pre-arbitration players on long-term contracts – the team’s most recent pre-ARB extensions were Sean Doolittle in 2014 and Trevor Cahill in 2011 – has arrived The Penney Athletics have reached the playoffs 11 times in the span of 25 years. Moreover, even in the midst of constant rip-offs, rebuilds, and transitions, the A’s never endured more than three consecutive losing seasons under Beane’s direction.
“I am incredibly proud of my 33 years here in Oakland, and I look forward to continuing in this new role,” Bean said in his own statement. “I am eager to help steer the direction of the organization along with the ownership. If I have done anything well during my time at the A’s, it is to devise a succession plan, and there is no one more willing to take the helm than David. It has been my privilege to I’ve been working with him all these years and I look forward to continuing to be an asset to him.”
Forrest, 46, has been with the athletics since 2000, rising from the team scouting ranks to become assistant general manager and concurrently with Bean’s promotion to executive vice president, team general manager. He’s held that title since 2015, but Bean has remained at the top of the team’s baseball operations hierarchy thus far — effectively serving in the same “chief of baseball operations” role that has become common throughout the industry, albeit with slightly varied wording.
Like Bean, Forst had long been viewed by other clubs as a potential employee in their baseball operations, but he remained entrenched in Oakland despite interest from other organizations. The Mets and Angels were reported to have some interest going into the 2020-21 season, and the Twins were interested in Forrest again in 2016. Forrest declined to talk to all three teams, opting to stay in Oakland, where he will now do so. To be given baseball independence after 22 years rising through the front office ranks.
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