OAKLAND — Billy Beane talked Sunday of the need for the A’s to get younger and have a strong, contending team in place by the time they would theoretically move into a new stadium.
It’s a familiar storyline, as Beane has taken a similar position on multiple occasions over the past decade whenever the A’s usher in a youth movement as they’re attempting now.
Sunday’s trade of relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the Washington Nationals for right-hander Blake Treinen and two Single-A prospects has “future” written all over it. But when Beane talked about this current rebuilding project, he spoke more definitively about the direction the franchise is headed with it.
The A’s remain committed to announcing a site for a new ballpark in this calendar year. The idea is that a winning team playing in a sparkling new venue would generate the revenue needed for the A’s to start signing some of their best young players to long-term deals, halting the cycle of Oakland’s best players being traded.
“The frustration isn’t (from not having) success. The frustration is that after success we haven’t kept them,” Beane said. “It’s just a fact. And we need to change that narrative by virtue of creating a good team and then ultimately committing to keeping them around so people, when they buy a ticket, know that the team’s going to be there for a few years.”
To which every A’s fan would say, “Amen.”
But the bottom line is that the A’s have to come through and deliver on their promise of a new ballpark. They have to take it from the concept phase, to announcing a site to build, to actually taking shovel to dirt and making it a reality.
Beane says he’s sensing the commitment from A’s principal owner John Fisher and president Dave Kaval to making the project happen.
“I’ve had a lot of conversations with ownership,” Beane said. “There’s a real commitment to finding a stadium. That’s not just lip service at this point. You’ve seen it.”
Asked if the A’s truly are committed to a total rebuilding effort, Beane replied: “Absolutely.”
Sunday’s trade was a nod in that direction. The A’s sent Doolittle and Madson to the Nationals for Treinen, a reliever who should arrive Monday, lefty Jesus Luzardo and shortstop/third baseman Sheldon Neuse.
Treinen has struggled to a 5.73 ERA in Washington’s bullpen this season, but hits the high 90’s with a fastball that has nasty sink. The A’s believe the 29-year-old has closer potential.
Luzardo, just 19, was a third-round pick in 2016 who some believe was a first-round talent had he not required Tommy John surgery shortly before the draft. Neuse, 22, was a second-round pick in 2016 out of Oklahoma. Drafted as a shortstop, Beane said the A’s probably will use him at short and third at Single-A Stockton.
The outfield remains ripe for an upgrade in the farm system, so that’s an area to watch as the A’s entertain offers for starter Sonny Gray, first baseman Yonder Alonso and second baseman Jed Lowrie.
“Listen, it’s the time of year” for trade talks, Beane said, suggesting that more moves certainly are likely.
He added that the emphasis would be on high-upside talent regardless of how close it is to the majors.
As for the desire to retain some of the team’s top talent, Beane added:
“This is my 20th year on the job. There’s only so many (rebuilding) cycles that I can go through before I get as exasperated as everybody else.”