The Oakland A’s have extended the contracts of vice president Billy Beane, general manager David Forst, and field manager Bob Melvin, the team announced Monday. The trio represents the top management of the club’s baseball operations.
The A’s enjoyed a successful 2018 season that exceeded all reasonable expectations, culminating in 97 wins, a Wild Card berth, and a brief trip to the postseason. The three decision-makers were each approaching the final year of their previous contracts in 2019, but now they have received long-term commitments to stay in town.
Melvin’s new contract runs through 2021, at an annual salary of around $3.5 million, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle. That payday would have ranked seventh in MLB last summer according to USA Today, but two of the higher figures are already gone (Scioscia, Showalter) and two more are set to expire after 2019 (Bochy, Maddon).
As for his performance, Melvin is among the most decorated skippers in the game’s recent history and he may have done his best work yet this year. He’s a favorite for the BBWAA Manager of the Year award (announcement Nov. 13), and if he gets it then he’ll become just the eighth three-time winner since the award began in 1983. He previously won in 2007 with Arizona, and 2012 with the A’s. He already received the Sporting News Manager of the Year for 2018, for the second time in his career.
Melvin took the helm in Oakland midway through 2011, replacing Bob Geren. According to the team’s press release, only three other managers have been with their current teams longer: Bruce Bochy (SF), Ned Yost (KC), and Clint Hurdle (PIT). Melvin is 634-599 in seven-plus seasons with the A’s, good for a .514 winning percentage, with four postseason appearances. Athletics Nation loves him and was heavily in favor of extending him.
As for the front office, Forst is now locked up through 2023, reports Slusser. Next year will be his fourth as the GM, but his 20th in the organization. Before becoming GM, he was the top assistant for a dozen years.
The terms of Beane’s deal are not yet known, but Slusser downplays the importance of those details and opines that his commitment is effectively indefinite. He took over as GM in 1998 and then moved up to VP in 2015, and along the way he’s accrued several awards and helped fundamentally change the game by popularizing modern, advanced statistical analysis. He’s more or less the face of the franchise, a distinction usually held by a player rather than an executive.
Beane’s resume (with Forst at his side nearly the entire time) is downright incredible after more than two decades of work. Over the last 21 years, Oakland’s .527 winning percentage is fourth-best in the AL and seventh-best in MLB. The team’s nine postseason appearances since 2000 (six division, three Wild Card) are sixth-most in MLB, behind the Yankees (15), Cardinals (12), Dodgers (10), Red Sox (10), and Braves (10). And all of this has come despite the fact that, on average, they’ve operated with around the 6th-lowest payroll out of 30 clubs, and never higher than 18th.
In other front office news, there is still one name being floated as a potential departure. Assistant GM Dan Kantrovitz appears on a speculative list of possibilities for the next Orioles boss, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network. Kantrovitz is one of three AGMs in Oakland, along with Billy Owens and Dan Feinstein.
Great news all around! The A’s are making the correct call and keeping three crucial people. Each of them is highly respected, with objectively excellent track records to point to, and the whole group is as hot as ever after a magical 2018. There’s no reason to move on from any of them, and they earned these contract extensions beyond any shadow of a doubt.
Nothing lasts forever, but Beane and Forst have proven their ability to consistently construct competitive rosters on shoestring budgets. This summer, the A’s became the first team in at least 30 years to reach the postseason with the lowest Opening Day payroll in the sport. The good times should continue to roll, too, as the current group appears poised to contend for at least the next few seasons.
Meanwhile, everyone seems to like Melvin, from the players to the front office to the fans to the media, and that’s not something that every team can say about their skipper. This is also the second time in seven years that he’s led an upstart Team of Destiny into the playoffs out of nowhere, and at some point you have to wonder if there’s something in his skill set that contributes to those results. In particular, he’s excellent at adapting to the unique roster he’s given, instead of rigidly following any one particular strategy.
The 2018 season included its share of good fortune, but at its core the success was no accident. It was the result of a series of shrewd trades and signings by Beane and Forst, coupled with bold, creative managing by Melvin. Congrats to all of them on these well-deserved extensions!