Athletics executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane is co-chair of RedBall Acquisition Corp., a company in talks with current Red Sox ownership, Fenway Sports Group, about a potential merger that would see RedBall take over a 25% ownership stake in the Boston franchise. Those talks are in their early stages and a deal isn’t an inevitability, but there’d be an obvious conflict of interest if the parties do eventually come to an agreement. (Beane also has an approximate 1% ownership stake in the Athletics, notes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle).
If the potential RedBall-FSG merger were to go through, Beane would likely step down from his position with the A’s, report Jared Diamond, Joshua Robinson and Miriam Gotffried of the Wall Street Journal. Slusser hears the same, noting that the deal might be finalized by the end of the calendar year. Beane leaving the A’s wouldn’t be surprising under those circumstances, but he’s not planning to make the jump to the Red Sox front office. Rather, Beane would step away from MLB front office work altogether, per the reports, likely to pursue a position with a European soccer club. The 58-year-old has spoken about his affinity for soccer in the past, and he was part of a group that purchased English club Barnsley FC in 2017, as Eric Chesterton of MLB.com detailed at the time.
Red Sox principal owner John Henry has long had an affinity for Beane. Henry tried unsuccessfully to coax Beane out of Oakland in 2002 to take over the Red Sox baseball operations, shortly before the publication of Moneyball helped make the latter one of the most famous sports executives in history. The two men also share a passion for soccer, with Fenway Sports Group purchasing Premier League club Liverpool FC in 2010.
It’s worth reiterating that nothing is yet official between RedBall and FSG. Beane was part of the A’s season-ending media call with general manager David Forst and manager Bob Melvin last week and gave no indication he was contemplating an imminent exit, the Wall Street Journal notes. Beane has declined comment regarding his future, but one source told Slusser he might “like a new adventure.” The A’s front office was especially frustrated with ownership’s decision to institute widespread layoffs and furloughs over the summer, Slusser adds, although it’s unclear if that has any impact on Beane’s thought process.
If Beane were to step away, the A’s would unsurprisingly hand the reins to Forst, Slusser reports. The 44-year-old has been in the organization since 2000 and served as GM for the past five seasons. Forst signed a long-term extension two years ago and has longed seemed the baseball operations leader of the future in Oakland.