Athletics Las Vegas Ballpark

Manfred defends Fisher's ‘very good record' of competitive A's teams

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The Athletics have long been criticized for their track record of trading away All-Star caliber players instead of offering up lucrative, long-term contracts to keep them in Oakland.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred addressed those concerns Thursday as owner John Fisher looks to potentially relocate the A's to Las Vegas.

"I think if you look at the A’s record over time and the economic circumstances, including the state of the stadium that they’ve operated in for a very long time, they had a very good record up through the pandemic," Manfred said Thursday. "That’s what I would say. Markets that face that kind of financial difficulty often have to make hard decisions with respect to players when you have limited financial resources."

Over the past few years, the A's have traded away starting pitchers Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea, as well as star position players Matt Olson, Matt Chapman and Sean Murphy. Marcus Semien, who played six seasons with the A's, departed in free agency in 2021.

While the A's currently own the second-worst record in baseball at 19-51 -- and that's after a recent seven-game winning streak -- Murphy, Chapman and Semien lead their position groups in All-Star fan votes with their new teams.

"I don’t make judgments about how people put their teams together," Manfred said. "It’s not appropriate for me to do."

The A's haven't had a payroll rank above 24th in baseball since 2011. Their payroll this season ranks dead last ($59.6 million). For context, the New York Mets are paying starting pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander $43.3 million apiece.

Fisher's spending tactics have been a target of scrutiny over his tenure as A's owner, but he's been tough to find for comment in recent years.

"Look, we have never mandated that owners have a particular stance with respect to public availability," Manfred said Thursday. "It’s not something we do or leagues do generally. You know, I think each owner has to make a decision as to how he’s going to interact with a market.

"It has been my preference to be more available rather than less, but everybody has to make their own decision on that."

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