Bud Selig Rumors

MLB Begins Interviewing Commissioner Candidates

9:53pm: In his full report, Costa writes that the committee has also interviewed at least two people who do not currently work in the commissioner’s office. Giants CEO Larry Baer has had “informal discussions” regarding the post, but has not made himself a candidate at this point, Costa adds. Likewise, discussions with Disney CEO Robert Iger have not moved past the preliminary stages and his potential candidacy appears to come with some complicating circumstances.

5:02pm: The process of replacing longtime MLB commissioner Bud Selig appears to be entering its next phase. Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal reports on Twitter that at least three internal candidates have been interviewed, presumably by the league’s succession committee.

The first name that Costa mentions will come as no surprise: Rob Manfred, the MLB COO. Manfred has long been considered a leading candidate and is currently “heavily favored” to succeed Selig, according to the report.

Also earning a chance to make a pitch for the commissioner’s chair were Tim Brosnan and Bob Bowman, each of whom occupy lofty positions within the MLB hierarchy. The former heads MLB’s domestic and international business ventures, while the latter is the CEO of MLB Advanced Media.


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Latest On MLB’s Commissioner Search

Last week, it was announced that Major League Baseball had formed a committee to appoint the league’s next commissioner at the end of Bud Selig’s tenure, which will come to an end next January. Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times has more on the search, noting that several owners have indicated to him their belief that Selig is strongly in favor of COO Rob Manfred taking the reins when his own time is through.

Selig’s desire for Manfred to succeed him isn’t necessarily a new revelation, but Schmidt goes on to write that Selig’s push for Manfred as his heir is meeting some resistance from an unexpected source — White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf. Schmidt spoke with more than 20 owners, senior team officials and MLB officials for his piece and came away with the knowledge that Reinsdorf — a long-time supporter of Selig – “has broken ranks and tried to upend the plan to slide Mr. Manfred into the commissioner’s office on Park Avenue.”

Reinsdorf was the only source to not require anonymity when speaking with Schmidt, telling him: “What I have said about [Manfred] is none of your business.” Reinsdorf added that he’s never said a bad word about Selig himself, whom he called the game’s “best commissioner.”

Schmidt continues by writing that Selig initially called a meeting with a select group of owners — Reinsdorf included — this past February, informing them that they would play a role in choosing his successor. As word of this attempt made its way through the game’s front offices, several owners became irritated. Eventually, Selig instead made the announcement of a smaller search committee last week.

Current candidates, in addition to Manfred, include Disney chief executive Bob Iger, Giants president Larry Baer, Braves chairman Terry McGuirk and Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, according to Schmidt. Tim Brosnan and Rob Bowman — currently senior business executives in the Commissioner’s Office — are seen as long shots.

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MLB Forms Committee To Search For Selig’s Successor

At the quarterly Owners Meetings earlier today, Bud Selig announced the formation of a committee to help determine his eventual successor as commissioner of Major League Baseball, Paul Hagen of MLB.com writes.

The succession committee, according to Hagen, will be overseen by Cardinals chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. and consist of six other owners: Dick Monfort (Rockies), Dave Montgomery (Phillies), Arte Moreno (Angels), Bob Nutting (Pirates), Jim Pohlad (Twins) and Jerry Reinsdorf (White Sox). While no official timeline is known, the committee will eventually present candidate(s) to all 30 Major League owners. Candidates will require an 80 percent vote (24 of 30) to pass and be named commissioner.

Selig said that the committee will consider people from both inside the game and outside the game, but there won’t be much information made available to the public. “[T]he process goes much more smoothly if there isn’t all kinds of speculation,” said Selig. “We’re not going to announce when we get a list together or who the potential candidates are, whom we’ve talked to or any of that.”

Ken Davidoff of the New York Post also touched on the formation of the committee, noting again that Selig’s preference seems to be for current MLB COO Rob Manfred to fill his shoes, though that will be up to the committee to decide. DeWitt did tell Davidoff that Selig’s opinion would have a definite impact on the search: We’d be remiss if we didn’t ask his opinion along the way.” DeWitt would not rule out the possibility of a current owner, perhaps even one of the committee members, being nominated as a candidate.

Selig, who assumed his current role on an interim basis in September of 1992, was the owner of of the Brewers prior to being named commissioner. As Hagen notes, he was eventually unanimously named the official commissioner in July 1998.

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Lucchino On Selig, Ortiz, Lester, Yanks, Free Agents

Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino spoke with reporters in Fort Myers, Fla. today and covered a number of topics, one of them being the impending retirement of commissioner Bud Selig. USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports that Lucchino "challenges the premise" that Selig is 100 percent certain to retire following the season. Lucchino says he is one of multiple executives who will pressure Selig to stay in office beyond January 2015. Nightengale quotes Lucchino: "He knows that [the] pressures for him to stay will be so great, that he will have to accede to them." (All Twitter links)

More from the CEO of the reigning World Series champions…

  • Lucchino confirmed that the club has met with David Ortiz's camp since the beginning of Spring Training to discuss a potential extension, writes Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. Lucchino called Ortiz "one of the most important faces in baseball" and said the club was going to give Big Papi's extension "the priority it deserves." He praised Ortiz for his leadership not only among teammates but also in the Boston community.
  • Also from Britton's piece, Lucchino called Jon Lester's comments about taking a discount to stay with the Red Sox "one of the highlights of the offseason" and noted that a Lester extension is something Red Sox brass will address in Spring Training as well.
  • WEEI.com's Alex Speier writes that Lucchino cringes when people lump the Red Sox and Yankees together, calling the two teams "very different animals." Lucchino points out that even though the Red Sox invested heavily in last offseason's free agent market, they only went to three guaranteed years on one deal (Shane Victorino), where the Yankees went to three-plus years four times this offseason alone. "They are still, this year at least, relying heavily on their inimitable old-fashioned Yankees style of high-priced, long-term free agents," he told reporters.
  • Also within Speier's article, Lucchino does give way to the possibility that the Red Sox could make future splashes of that significance in free agency, however it would be more as an exception to the rule than the start of a trend.

MLB Names Rob Manfred Chief Operating Officer

Major League Baseball executive vice president Rob Manfred has been named the league's chief operating officer, according to Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal (on Twitter). Major League Baseball has officially announced that commissioner Bud Selig appointed Manfred to the position (Twitter link), leading many to speculate that Manfred is being groomed as his successor. Selig officially announced last week that he would retire following the 2014 season.

Manfred had been serving as one of five EVPs for Major League Baseball, dealing specifically with labor relations and human resources. Until this point, he has been responsible for the relationship between Major League Baseball's teams and the MLBPA. Manfred graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1983 and has been an integral cog in negotiating baseball's collective bargaining agreement. More information on his background can be found in his MLB.com biography.

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Bud Selig To Formally Announce Retirement Today

2:21pm: Major League Baseball has issued a press release confirming Selig's retirement. Within the release, Selig offered the following statement:

“It remains my great privilege to serve the game I have loved throughout my life. Baseball is the greatest game ever invented, and I look forward to continuing its extraordinary growth and addressing several significant issues during the remainder of my term. 

I am grateful to the owners throughout Major League Baseball for their unwavering support and for allowing me to lead this great institution. I thank our players, who give me unlimited enthusiasm about the future of our game. Together we have taken this sport to new heights and have positioned our national pastime to thrive for generations to come. Most of all, I would like to thank our fans, who are the heart and soul of our game.” 

1:04pm: Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig will announce his formal retirement later today, according to the New York Daily News' investigative reporting team of Teri Thompson, Michael O'Keeffe, Christian Red and Nathaniel Vinton. Selig plans to announce that the 2014 season will be his final as league commissioner, according to the report (Twitter link).

A report earlier this season from CBS Sports broke the news that Selig at one point turned down a five-year extension that would have kept him in office through age 83. Selig will be 80 years old at the conclusion of his career. He has been the league's commissioner since 1992 and seen baseball grow from a $1.2 billion industry to an $8.5 billion industry under his guidance.

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Selig Turned Down Five-Year Extension

There have been several past instances of MLB commissioner Bud Selig announcing his retirement plans, and each time those have changed. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes that Selig is more adamant than ever this time that he will retire following the 2014 season. Heyman reports that Selig even turned down a five-year contract at the signing of his most recent two-year contract because he has firmly decided to retire at the age of 80.

Selig has been baseball's commissioner since 1992 and is popular among owners with good reason, Heyman notes. Since taking office, baseball has grown from a $1.2 billion industry to an $8 billion industry. Under his watch, 22 new stadiums have been constructed, franchise values have shot through the roof and there will have been 21 years of labor peace at the conclusion of the current collective bargaining agreement.

Selig's post-retirement plans include teaching a history class at the University of Wisconsin and authoring a book. The Milwaukee native says he's proud of what he's done, but the time has come to step down.

Heyman also adds that it will be difficult to find a replacement commissioner. A new candidate would need to pass with a 75 percent vote among MLB owners, and one owner told Heyman, "There isn't a man or woman alive who can get the 24 votes." Selig's contract expires on January 15, 2015, which is two weeks later than originally reported.

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Quick Hits: Yankees, Orioles, Selig

Here are some links to read before the Home Run Derby begins, starting with last year's derby winner…

  • The Yankees have had internal discussions about a long-term contract for Robinson Cano, Jack Curry of the YES Network writes. GM Brian Cashman acknowledges that the team has considered trying to lock the second baseman up to an extension. "Oh, yeah. But we haven't done it yet," Cashman said.
  • Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com suggests the Orioles should seek upgrades aggressively without parting with elite prospects Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado. Executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette is working to add starting pitching between now and the end of July and names like Zack Greinke and Wandy Rodriguez have emerged as possibilities.
  • Commissioner Bud Selig told reporters he's "very satisfied" with baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement so far, Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal tweets.

The Next MLB Commissioner

A generation of fans, players, and front office personnel have only known one commissioner. Bud Selig has been in office for two decades, longer than anyone since the sport’s first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis. 

But at some point, MLB will name a successor to Selig, the car salesman turned team owner turned baseball boss. His contract expires following the 2014 season, and while he could sign yet another extension, someone will have to succeed him eventually. So who will it be? Before we attempt to answer that question, let’s establish some background:

Bud Selig (PW)

The Commissioner’s Role

The commissioner represents the interests of baseball’s 30 owners and should create fan interest, grow the sport worldwide, and manage everything from labor relations to multimedia ventures. Perhaps most importantly, the commissioner should generate revenue and boost franchise values for owners. 

Selig’s MLB.com bio points out that revenues “have increased more than five-fold, from $1.2 billion in 1992 [when Selig started] to the $7.0 billion mark in both 2010 and 2011.” Based on these figures alone, it’s no surprise MLB owners are happy with Selig’s work. 

Fans tend to view the commissioner as someone with unrivaled power, and it's a view former commissioner Bowie Kuhn encouraged. "The commissioner exists to tell the owners what to do and not the other way around," he wrote in his autobiography Hardball.

But Marvin Miller, the longtime executive director of the MLB Players Association, saw things differently. In Miller’s 1991 autobiography, A Whole Different Ball Game: The Inside Story of the Baseball Revolution, he explained his interpretation of the power structure within baseball.

“It would probably shock some of the most avid baseball fans to learn that commissioners are hired by the owners, that no one else has a voice in the process, that owners determine his duties and responsibilities, and that they decide his compensation and pay every penny of it,” Miller wrote. “The owners decide whether the commissioner is representing their interests, and their interests alone, in a satisfactory manner.”

Yet Miller wrote his book before Selig’s 20-year reign began and the dynamic seems different today. Selig, the former owner of the Brewers, hardly seems to be at the mercy of the sport’s current owners, though they’re technically his employers.

Selig's greatest strength is his ability to build consensus for ownership, a task that sounds easier than it is considering the assortment of individual owners and corporations whose reputations and finances are at stake. By all accounts baseball's owners get along far better than they did two decades ago, and it'll be a bonus for owners if Selig's successor shares his knack for creating unity.

Don’t Bother Applying

MLB owners can be expected to favor candidates with experience in labor relations. But don’t expect management to hire someone from ‘the other side’ as Selig’s successor. For a time, Jeff Moorad was on track to become the Padres’ next owner, but the former agent seemed to have trouble winning the trust of others in management and he has since dropped his application to become the team’s controlling partner. If MLB owners are uncomfortable admitting a former agent into their exclusive club, you can bet they aren’t going to choose someone with too many ties to the players as their most powerful public advocate. Agents, MLBPA execs and others who seem to side with labor need not apply.

Some Names To Consider

Rob Manfred, MLB's executive VP Labor Relations, manages the relationship between teams and players for baseball's owners. The Harvard Law graduate knows the economics of the game as well as anyone — after all, he has helped shape them through collective bargaining with the MLBPA.

Andy MacPhail, a longtime executive with the Twins, Cubs and Orioles, also worked toward the 2006 CBA. His family has a long history of representing teams, which could earn him points with some tradition-bound owners. His father, Hall of Famer Lee MacPhail, worked for the Yankees and Orioles before becoming the president of the American League. His grandfather, Hall of Famer Larry MacPhail, was the general manager for the Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers and president and part owner of the Yankees.

Derrick Hall's name comes up when those at the highest levels of MLB discuss successors to Selig, Yahoo's Steve Henson reported this year. Selig and those close to him like what the Diamondbacks’ president offers. “Derrick is clearly one of the best young executives we have in baseball,” White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf told Henson. “He’s one of the ones we expect to lead as time goes by.” Hall’s accessible and personable, someone who might relate well with the sport’s younger fans. 

Others, such as Red Sox president Larry Lucchino, Blue Jays president Paul Beeston, Indians president Mark Shapiro, Tigers president and GM Dave Dombrowski, Mariners president Chuck Armstrong, Cubs president Theo Epstein, Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten, Braves president John Schuerholz, Phillies president David Montgomery, Mets GM Sandy Alderson, Cardinals chairman & CEO Bill DeWitt, Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd, and Pirates president Frank Coonelly could also have support around the league.

Baseball's owners could push for an outsider. They hired Peter Ueberroth, the organizer of the 1984 Olympics, as the sport's sixth commissioner in the 1980s. A similar hire remains possible if a compelling enough candidate emerges. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman worked for the NBA early in his career, so there's some precedent for top executives switching leagues.

But trying to predict the next commissioner while two-plus years remain on Selig’s contract is a little like anticipating the winner of a political election years in advance. In baseball, as in politics, there’s often a name of the moment, someone who gains momentum at precisely the right time and wins, maybe unexpectedly. Until then, fans, players and even the owners themselves are left to speculate.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.

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Quick Hits: Playoffs, Dodgers Owners, Padres, Floyd

It was on this day in 1982 that the Cubs acquired Ryne Sandberg and Larry Bowa from the Phillies in a trade for Ivan De Jesus.  The Bowa-for-DeJesus component ended up being pretty even, but needless to say, Chicago won that trade — Sandberg went on to a Hall Of Fame career as one of the greatest Cubs of all time.  Sandberg eventually returned to the Phillies organization in 2011, managing the team's Triple-A affiliate to an 80-64 record.

Here are some news items as we enter the last weekend of January…

  • Bud Selig told reporters (including Ronald Blum of the Associated Press) at the Chicago SoxFest event that he believes baseball will add a second wild card team for 2012.  "Clubs really want it. I don't think I've ever seen an issue that the clubs want more than to have the extra wild card this year," Selig said, adding that each league's two wild cards would compete in a one-game playoff to advance to the LDS.  Blum reports that MLB and the Players' Association have agreed that a tie for a division lead would be settled by a one-game playoff, rather than a tiebreaker formula.
  • The biggest obstacle standing in the way of an expanded postseason for 2012 would be finding room in the schedule for the extra wild-card game and potential tiebreaker games, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.  “It’s going to be hard to do…but it’s still possible,” a source informs Rosenthal.
  • At least eight potential owners looking to buy the Dodgers have advanced to the second round of the bidding process, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.  Among those making the cut were Steven Cohen, Peter O'Malley and Stan Kroenke, as well as the groups fronted by Magic Johnson, Joe Torre and the Stanley Gold/Disney family group.  Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and a group led by White Sox executive Dennis Gilbert were among the bids that didn't make the second round, Shaikin adds
  • More than one ownership group has expressed an interest in the Padres if the team's sale to Jeff Moorad can't be finalized, reports Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune.  None of these groups are any of the prospective Dodgers buyers, however, as those would-be owners want to specifically buy the Dodgers, not just any team. 
  • Also as part of Center's online chat with fans, he reports Padres GM Josh Byrnes is looking at signing a starter with big league experience to a minor league contract.
  • Gavin Floyd tells Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times that he's trying to block out trade rumors, but says that he wants to remain with the White Sox.  "I love Chicago, I want to be here,'' Floyd said. "I've been part of this organization for four or five years. I feel like I've grown and gotten better every year and established relationships I'll cherish the rest of my life."
  • The Astros' hiring of Sig Mejdal as the director of decision sciences indicates a new, analytical direction for how Houston scouts and evaluates players, writes Zachary Levine for Baseball America.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a quick rundown of the American League's "super six" teams.