Rob Manfred Elected Next MLB Commissioner

FRIDAY: Manfred’s initial contract will be a three-year deal, tweets Nightengale.

THURSDAY, 5:58pm: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Manfred’s support vacillated between 20, 21 and 22 voters over the course of the day. The Brewers and Rays pushed the vote to 21 and 22. Of the final eight holdouts, the Nationals were the team that eventually changed their vote and put Manfred over the top, Heyman adds.

5:14pm: Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times tweets that Manfred passed 30-0 in the final vote. Presumably, once one owner flipped his vote, the other seven conceded the defeat and made the decision unanimous. Indeed, in a follow-up tweet, Shaikin calls the 30-0 vote “an olive branch for posterity” by the seven owners who were still opposed to Manfred.

5:01pm: Major League Baseball owners have elected Rob Manfred as the next commissioner of MLB, according to Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times (Twitter link).

Manfred, 55, will succeed Selig, who had announced that he would step down after the season. The former Brewers’ owner has been at the helm since 1992, when he was named acting Commissioner, taking over for Fay Vincent. His seat was formalized in 1998. During his tenure, baseball went through a devastating strike and still-lingering PED crisis, and also saw significant economic growth.

Manfred has been along for much of that ride, as Lynn Zinser of the New York Times wrote yesterday. After representing MLB as part of his practice with a large firm, Manfred entered league employment full-time in 1998 and spent fifteen years running point on many of the key labor issues that defined Selig’s stint.

The Harvard Law graduate’s ability to work with the MLB Player’s Association was perhaps seen as both a strength and weakness, as a minority group of owners emerged recently to challenge his assumed ascension. Red Sox chairman and part owner Tom Werner arose as the most plausible alternative, and managed to win the initial support off a reported eight owners during the early rounds of voting.

As Bob Nightengale of USA Today wrote yesterday, Manfred supporters will point to his status as head of labor negotiations and the 19 years of peace between MLB and the MLBPA. He also helped to implement baseball’s current drug testing system and headed last year’s Biogenesis investigation. His detractors, Nightengale notes, will point to the fact that baseball is the only sport without a salary cap. They also credit the drug testing agreement to the MLBPA for changing its stance and criticize Manfred for allowing all but $2 billion of the Dodgers’ $8.35 billion TV deal to be protected from revenue sharing.

After the first two rounds of voting, Manfred had just 22 of the necessary 23 votes of support, with the White Sox, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Angels, Nationals, Athletics, Diamondbacks and Reds all opposing. It’s unclear which of the eight opposing teams owners flipped his vote and tipped the scale in Manfred’s favor.