Oakland Athletics executive vice president Billy Beane said Sunday that he is committed to a full rebuild of the team, with an eye on being competitive when the franchise has a new ballpark.
He also said Sunday that ownership has committed to keeping the team's best players long-term when the A's are in a new home stadium. Beane said the franchise's pledge to find a new stadium isn't "lip service."
Beane made his comments after the A's traded relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the Washington Nationals for right-hander Blake Treinen and two prospects, left-hander Jesus Luzardo and third baseman Sheldon Neuse. He said the trade "fits into everything in the direction we're going."
"We need to be disciplined with [a rebuild], particularly with how aligned with what we're trying to do in the community as far as a stadium. There's only one way to open a stadium successfully, and that's with a good, young team," he told reporters, adding that the franchise under his leadership has "never really committed to a full rebuild."
Beane has had to tear down the roster of the small-market A's several times in his 20 years with the franchise, but he said Sunday that there will be a different philosophy once the team has a new ballpark.
"Really what's been missing the last 20 years is keeping these players," Beane told reporters. "We need to change that narrative by creating a good team and ultimately committing to keep them around so that when people buy a ticket, they know that the team is going to be around for a few years."
He again emphasized that the A's need to keep their players once they have the added revenue that comes with a new stadium.
"Really what's been missing the last 20 years is keeping these players. We need to change that narrative by creating a good team and ultimately committing to keep them around so that when people buy a ticket, they know that the team is going to be around for a few years." Billy Beane
"The important end of the sentence is rebuilding and keeping them. This is my 20th year on the job. There are only so many cycles that I can go through before I get as exasperated as everybody else," he told reporters. "Finding players has never been an issue for us. Keeping them and ultimately keeping the faith and commitment from people who follow the team, that's got to be done by keeping them around. Again, I've been assured by ownership that that's what we're going to do as it parallels with the stadium."
The A's have been at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum since they moved there from Kansas City for the 1968 season. The park opened in 1966.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported last month that the A's are focusing on three locations. The newspaper said the team is strongly interested in a 13-acre site near downtown that currently is headquarters of the Peralta Community College District. The Chronicle also said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf favors Howard Terminal, north of Jack London Square, and the team is considering constructing a new ballpark at its current location, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
John Fisher was approved in November as the controlling owner of the Athletics.
"They've said they're going to by the end of the year identify a site in Oakland that's their preferred site,'' commissioner Rob Manfred said last week to members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. "I think that given the change in the control situation in Oakland that it was prudent for Mr. Fisher to take a year and make a decision as to what site he thinks is the best. That decision is a uniquely local decision. I really don't believe it is my job to have a preference for those sites. They know their market better.''
The A's have several other players on the roster who are likely to be traded before the deadline, including infielder Jed Lowrie and right-handed starter Sonny Gray. Beane said that when the A's make more trades they will be looking for the best available prospects, as they did in Sunday's trade. That too marks a change in philosophy.
"In the past, a lot of times we would take players that fit immediately into what we were trying to do and maybe passing on upside. I don't necessarily think that will be the case now," he told reporters.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.