Why Are Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo and Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane Such Good Trade Partners?

By Nick Comando
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It seems like the only team the Washington Nationals makes trades with is the Oakland Athletics. In fact, since 2010, there have been twenty players exchanged between the two teams, and they currently have a streak of making a trade every offseason since 2010. That’s three years of making trades that, for the most part, have benefited both teams.Washington has acquired the likes of Gio GonzalezKurt SuzukiJerry Blevins, and Ian Krol, and the Athletics have acquired players from one of the top minor league systems in baseball. The Nationals were able to turn Krol into Doug Fister and then turned around and replaced Krol with the more proven Blevins, who could make a serious jump in the National League. All of these deals beg the question: Why are Nationals GM Mike Rizzo and Athletics GM Billy Beane such good trade partners?

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it could be multiple things. First off, both Rizzo and Beane’s career roots are in scouting, as Rizzo’s father, Phil, was a longtime scout and was the reason why his son got into scouting rather than pursuing a playing career. Beane had a similar start as he was a top pick by the New York Mets but was never able to live up to the hype and could not deal with his own failure. He became an advance scout in 1990 for the Athletics before being promoted in 1993 to Assistant GM and then GM in 1997. Rizzo also worked his way up from scout to joining the Arizona Diamondbacks as the Director of Scouting from 2000-06.

Needless to say, there could be, and probably is, a mutual respect between the two for where they began and where they are now. They also tend to march to the beat of their own drummer; Beane took on Paul DePodesta’s idea of finding the market inefficiency and taking a more economic approach to running a front office, so much so that a book and movie were created, both titled “Moneyball.” Rizzo is a similar story, being the only GM the past few seasons to be fined by Major League Baseball for sticking up for his players and still sits in the stands behind home plate rather than up in the Owner’s Suite. Beane, as we know, doesn’t watch the games.

Beane and Rizzo are both straight shooters who tend not to mince words and do things their way. Beane is the architect of one of the most prolific baseball business models in recent memory, if not history, and paved the way for what the Tampa Bay Rays do. There is a mutual respect between Rizzo and Beane as both know what they want, and they do not beat around the bush when they want to make a deal. It’s these reasons — and probably more — that make them such good trade partners.

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