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A’s rebuilding into a potential long-term winner

The Oakland A’s have long been one of the more successful franchises in Major League Baseball. After winning three consecutive World Series in the 1970s, the team went to three more from 1988-90, winning one. In the early 2000s, general manager Bill Beane, who took over in 1997 in that role, built a juggernaut that went to the playoffs five times in six years, albeit reaching the ALCS only once.

After getting to the playoffs three more times from 2012-14 (and never advancing), the A’s began trying to reload on the fly. It resulted in a pair of 90+ loss seasons. Now, Oakland is once more in last place of the American League West, sporting a 42-50 record after sweeping the Cleveland Indians over the weekend. Oakland made news in another way, though, dealing relievers Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle to the Washington Nationals for Blake Treinen and a pair of high-upside prospects.

The trade in itself wasn’t surprising. Oakland had little use for Madson and Doolittle, with the former turning 37 years old soon and the latter having chronic shoulder issues. With the A’s nowhere near contention, it was wise for Beane to deal assets while he could, gaining some controllable youth in the process.

While the trade itself was fairly predictable, what he said to the media afterward was anything but. Per ESPN:

“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 is correct is stating that during his tenure, the A’s have never completely stripped the team down. Now, with a new stadium likely three years away (the team has committed to announcing a site within Oakland this calendar year), the A’s are taking their time to assemble a winner that can be kept for the long haul.

Oakland already has a nice head start on that endeavor. The A’s have a young, talented infield with Ryon Healy, Matt Chapman, Franklin Barreto, Matt Olson and Marcus Semien. Healy has 19 homers and 54 RBI this season, only his second in the big leagues, while Barreto is a top prospect and Chapman is in the league’s top 100. Semien hit 25 home runs at shortstop last year, and continues to improve in the field. Oakland also has slugger Khris Davis in left field, who has swatted 25 this season to go with 62 RBI.

On the mound, there is hope as well. A.J. Puk is one of the best prospects in baseball, already getting to the Double-A level just a year after being drafted. Puk could join the duo of Sean Manaea and Kendall Graveman, already a pair entrenched in the majors. Once Sonny Gray gets dealt (if he does), the A’s will have another major prospect or two, likely coming in the form of some outfield help.

This season is lost for the A’s, but with Beane and a new stadium perhaps finally on the horizon, there is real hope.

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