By trading Gonzalez, a move that came just two weeks after the departure of fellow top starter Trevor Cahill, Beane collected more players who he expects will help him sustain that plan. Whether it gets done in a new stadium remains to be seen, but Beane has to act as if that will happen.
"We've been through this [rebuilding] cycle numerous times, and it gets shorter and shorter because the gap between us and everybody else grows," Beane said. "The fact of the matter is, for us to compete, we're going to have to have a new stadium, and I don't think there was a move we could have made that would put us in a position to compete with a club like the Angels or Texas given what they have and where they're headed and some of those signings.
"You're talking about two clubs in the division that are probably in the $150- to $170-million range, and we're not a business that can put that payroll on the field."
Talks with the Nationals regarding Gonzalez began a month ago and outlasted plenty of discussions the A's engaged in with other clubs. However, Beane noted that, in the end, it was "a very difficult decision," because there was an unnamed club involved with an entirely different offering on the table.
"But we just slightly leaned this way," he said. "We were pretty clear from the start that we were going to leverage one team against the other. We were transparent about that. First of all, I think the caliber of the prospects, they're guys we think very, very highly of and in a couple of cases guys we think are very, very close. Milone and Peacock were in the big leagues at the end of the year and showed themselves pretty well. The other thing, we're giving up a pitcher, and the ability to acquire three -- what we think are three very good Major League prospects -- was what won it for us."
Milone and Peacock, Beane said, will both be in the mix for rotation spots come spring and, including the recently acquired Jarrod Parker, Milone appears most apt to grab hold of one based on prior experience. Cole, however, may have the "highest upside," and the A's have the ability to be patient with the 19-year-old prospect.
Norris, meanwhile, is coming off a subpar year at the Double-A level. With his arrival, there's already speculation surrounding a possible Kurt Suzuki trade -- the A's catcher has a deal through 2013 with a club option for 2014 -- but Beane envisions Norris continuing his grooming process at the Minor League level next year.
Suzuki's name could still surface on the trade market, given Oakland's unwavering stance as a team willing to listen on anyone other than Jemile Weeks. And Friday, Beane reiterated that same notion, confirming he's still receiving interest in other players.
Closer Andrew Bailey is likely garnering the most fodder, and it appears Boston -- which was also reportedly in the mix for Gonzalez -- could land the two-time All-Star. The Red Sox have a handful of young outfielders like Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish who could help fill Oakland's need in that position.
But Beane insists "we're focused on getting the best players we can get, whether they be pitchers or position players.
"We're trying to collect as many young players as we can, and in some cases, from a trade standpoint, those best players are pitchers and maybe down the road they'll be position players," he said. "I think that's our best long-term strategy. We need both, and we need as much as we can get."
Beane would like to emulate the plan created by the Indians, who in 1994 entered a new stadium with a contending team in hand.
"They did it first, and they did it best," he said. "Nobody's done it the same way since. We're going to take the same approach, and if there's a little bit of pain in between, so be it.
"They did it where the core of the team enters a stadium and they're already productive Major League players, based on giving them the opportunity before you go in there, and it's a team that sustains itself for a long, long time. The Indians were arguably one of the most dominant teams of the '90s, and to me that's the blueprint and the template of the way to do it."
In the meantime, Oakland's payroll will remain one of the lowest in the league. Beane maintains he has always spent what he's been given, and 2012 is no different except in the way the funds will be allocated. The club's Draft budget will be well more than three times higher than it was last year, he said, based on higher Draft choices. The A's have also increased their international signing budget, as well as hiring more staff to help in those areas.