Longtime Oakland Athletics executive Billy Beane may soon face a difficult choice. John Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox, is in talks to sell 25 percent of Fenway Sports Group to Redball Acquisition Co., according to Brandon Kochkodin of Bloomberg. Beane is co-chairman of Redball and MLB rules prohibit him from having a stake in the Red Sox while remaining with the Athletics.
In 1910, MLB implemented a rule preventing a person from owning stakes in multiple franchises. The rule exists because the owners of the Cleveland Spiders purchased the St. Louis Browns in 1899, and essentially traded all the team's best players to St. Louis, including Hall of Famer Cy Young. The Spiders went 20-134 that year, the worst record in MLB history.
Here's more on the potential Red Sox sale via Kochkodin:
RedBall, a special purpose acquisition company of which Beane is co-chairman, raised $575 million including so-called greenshoe shares in a U.S. initial public offering in August. Bloomberg reported Friday that the SPAC was in talks to acquire less than 25% of Fenway Sports Group, which it values at $8 billion, including debt. A successful deal would also give him a clear route into Liverpool Football Club and English soccer's Premier League.
Beane, 58, joined the A's as a scout in 1990, after his playing career ended. He gradually climbed the front office ladder and was named the team's general manager in 1997. Beane was promoted to president of baseball operations in 2015 and he has a small equity stake in the Athletics, hence the conflict of interest.
The Wall Street Journal reports that, should the deal be completed, Beane would leave baseball entirely rather than remain with the Athletics or join the Red Sox ownership group in an active role. Either way, he would have to divest himself of his stake in the Red Sox or his stake in the Athletics. He can't keep both. The Boston stake figures to be more lucrative.
The Fenway Sports Group deal with Redball is not yet complete and there is no timetable for it to be finalized.