Rob Manfred Rumors

AL Notes: Red Sox, Cabrera, Capuano, Mariners

Commisoner Rob Manfred tops the 50 most fascinating figures in baseball, according to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. Manfred has been pro-active during the first month of his tenure, Sherman opines, by already engaging the MLBPA over issues such as keeping the batter in the box between pitches and being ready to ignite play quicker after half-inning breaks while continuing the pitch clock experiment in the minors with an impetus to have them in MLB by next season. Rounding out Sherman’s top five are: Alex Rodriguez, Matt Harvey, Giancarlo Stanton, and Joe Maddon.

Here’s the latest news and notes from the American League:

Quick Hits: Royals, Hall, Red Sox, Astros

Entering 2015, the Royals possess baseball’s best defense, writes Anthony Castrovince of Sports On Earth. With stalwarts like Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, and Alcides Escobar, the club can count on preventing dozens of runs next season. On the bench lurks speedy defensive whiz Jarrod Dyson to help track down fly balls. Rounding out Castrovince’s top five defenses are the Orioles, Reds, Yankees, and Cardinals.

  • Baseball is fighting for relevance, writes Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic. While football can claim a larger fandom than baseball, it’s not the job of Commissioner Rob Manfred to reverse that trend. Instead, the league needs to improve its relevance with youth. A lot of attention has fixated on minor tweaks to the game like a faster pace of play. Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall has some more novel ideas for improving the fan experience. He suggests letting the home team take batting practice second to improve player-fan interactions. He also proposes using pre-game fielding practice as a stage for displays of athleticism.
  • The Red Sox have a revamped lineup, new rotation, deeper bullpen, and a $200MM payroll, writes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. The rotation is viewed as a weakness because nobody stands out as a potential ace. However, manager John Farrell believes the current unit will be sufficient. The lineup should provide plenty of fire power and the defense can also help to bail out the rotation. If the rotation is revealed to be a weakness, the club has plenty of prospects to acquire reinforcements.
  • The Astros are looking to win in the present season for the first time in the Jeff Luhnow era, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The club is setting a target for a .500 finish, which does appear to be a viable goal. With several 2014 breakouts and more impactful prospects on the way, Houston appears to be turning the corner on their rebuild. Luhnow points to building chemistry as one important piece of the puzzle. Several roster decisions will be made this spring, most notably in the outfield where Robbie Grossman and Alex Presley will be fighting for jobs.

Reactions To Manfred’s First Day As Commissioner

Today is Rob Manfred’s first official day as Commissioner of Baseball. Manfred penned an open letter to the game’s fans explaining his mission: “To honor the game’s history while welcoming new people to our great sport — people who will one day pass their love of baseball down through the generations. That is what our parents and grandparents did for us, and it is what we are doing for our own children.” Manfred listed his priorities as making baseball “more accessible to those in underserved areas” and “to continue to modernize the game without interfering with its history and traditions.

Here are the reactions from around baseball as the transition from Selig to Manfred is now complete:

  • Manfred made news on his first day saying, in an interview with ESPN’s Karl Ravech, he would be open to the idea of eliminating defensive shifts as a means to injecting additional offense into the game.
  • In an interview with ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, Manfred outlined five objectives of his tenure: youth outreach, embrace technology, quicken the pace of play, strengthen player relations, and creating a more unified business operation.
  • Manfred also told Crasnick he recognizes the reinstatement of Pete Rose is an issue, but “I’m just not at a point in time where I can say anything intelligent about it.
  • In a separate article, Crasnick opines Manfred’s influence and achievements vastly outweigh his low profile and he is ready to make some baseball history of his own.
  • Manfred understands the special relationship between our culture and the National Pastime, writes Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports.
  • Brown’s colleague, Jeff Passan, notes how the now former Commisioner Bud Selig overcame early missteps and forged an enduring legacy.
  •’s Jon Heyman calls Selig basball’s great reformer and has led the game to unprecedented heights.
  • Paul White and Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today examines the accomplishments under Selig and the challenges which await Manfred.
  • Selig told the Associated Press his dream for the game is to have an international flavor, including MLB franchises in other countries.

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Rob Manfred Receives Five-Year Term As Commissioner

Rob Manfred was officially given a five-year term as the successor to commissioner Bud Selig today, Selig himself announced today (Associated Press link). Manfred was selected as the next MLB commissioner earlier this year, beating out runner-up candidate Tom Werner, though previous reports indicated that his initial term would be only three years.

Per the AP, Selig said that Manfred’s term was approved “unanimously, quietly and quickly” in a meeting today, which is “the way it should be,” he added. Among the tasks Manfred will face in the early stages of his term are improving the pace of play, assessing baseball’s instant replay system following its first year of implementation and addressing the stadium issues of both the A’s and Rays.

Manfred served as Major League Baseball’s vice president of labor relations before being named the league’s chief operating officer in 2013. The Harvard Law graduate was known to be Selig’s preferred successor prior to his election in August. Manfred has served as the head of labor negotiations for 19 years since the strike of 1994, and he was a key component in implementing baseball’s current drug testing system as well as negotiating the most recent collective bargaining agreement.

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Gammons’ Latest: Manfred, Stanton, Rockies, Castillo

Rob Manfred will make a fine commissioner, notes Peter Gammons of Among the many reasons are his familiarity with the issues of the game. Those include upcoming PED news, growing dissent between small and large market clubs, and the upcoming legal battle between the Orioles and Nationals over MASN revenues. Gammons concludes that the game would benefit most if the owners put some effort into helping Manfred settle into the job.

  • The Marlins have a seriously bad reputation when it comes to dealing away their stars in fire sales. According to Gammons, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria knows that a big brand can go a long way to improving attendance. With Lebron James back in Cleveland, Giancarlo Stanton is the top name in Miami sports. This is the reason why the Marlins have rebuffed all offers for Stanton.
  • The Rockies are on the hook for a combined $167MM between Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. This trade deadline included rumors that the club would consider dealing one or both of their stars, but their season ending injuries will probably prevent any offseason deals. Gammons notes that the rarefied air in Colorado can make recovery difficult.
  • One talent evaluator compares Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a center field capable Ron Gant. The Yankees are among the biggest players for Castillo, but they have to contend with a hefty luxury tax penalty. Because Alex Rodriguez will be back on the books, the Yankees will pay a tax in the range of 40% to 50% if they add Castillo. As Gammons notes, a $50MM contract would come with a $20MM to $25MM tax.
  • The league is concerned about two things related to Cuban imports. The defection process is morally troubling, as it supports human trafficking. The other issue is the diet of Cuban players. The stress fractures that have sidelined Jorge Soler and Jose Iglesias could be related to calcium deficiency. According to one insider, his team will be monitoring the “bone structure and diet” of their Cuban acquisitions.

Quick Hits: Harvey, Rodon, Dodgers, Astros

After going through a number of difficult times with MLB, Rob Manfred is more than ready to take over as commissioner, writes Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer. Manfred started working for MLB as an outside counsel in 1994, so he definitely knows what a crisis situation is all about.  More from around baseball..

  • In a radio interview last week, Matt Harvey reiterated that he is eager to get back to action for the Mets and said he is throwing in the mid-90s in his sessions. Later, manager Terry Collins got in touch with the star hurler. And I explained to him, I understand that,” Collins said of Harvey’s desire to get back to pitching, according to Newsday’s Marc Carig. “But the process is right now, you’ve got to understand it’s the big picture, and the big picture is 2015. So back off.” 
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post explores why the Mets and Cubs, who seem perfectly suited to swing a trade (pitching for a shortstop), have yet to take the leap. A NL executive tells Sherman the Mets “don’t make a lot of trades and that is because they really don’t like to give up what they perceive as their big talent, unless they can convince you to give them $2 for their 35 cents.
  • White Sox manager Robin Ventura told reporters, including’s Scott Merkin, he will consider promoting Carlos Rodon (the third overall selection in this year’s draft) when the rosters expand in September. “If he’s doing well enough to come up here, yeah,” Ventura said. “If he’s available and he’s ready to go, he’s ready to go. I would like to see it but he’s got to be ready to go.” Rodon, who is not on the White Sox’s 40-man roster, was promoted to Triple-A yesterday.
  • Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) if the club can “find a reliever that can help us late in the games we will consider it.”
  • The Astros have decisions to make on a pair of injured right-handed relievers, reports’s Brian McTaggart. Matt Albers (out since April with shoulder tendinitis) has a 2015 club option and Jesse Crain (who has been sidelined since undergoing surgery for biceps tendinitis last October) signed a one-year deal in January and Astros GM Jeff Luhnow would like to see them pitch this season before deciding their fates. “It would be nice to have those two guys in the bullpen in September to help us win some games.” said Luhnow. “I’m sure they want to do that as well so they can establish something going into next year.” 

Edward Creech contributed to this post.

Morosi’s Latest: Manfred, Price, Castillo

Here’s the latest from Jon Morosi via a video from FOX Sports:

  • Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria thinks incoming commissioner Rob Manfred will be an independent decision-maker and won’t just follow in Bud Selig’s footsteps. In particular, Manfred could help hasten the pace of games and make other improvements to help appeal to younger fans. Manfred could also tackle the issue of competitive balance and could make changes to the draft.
  • Morosi notes that David Price‘s home debut with the Tigers tonight will also mark the first time he’s ever squared off against Felix Hernandez.
  • Cuban free agent 2B/OF Rusney Castillo could get a contract in the range of six years and $50MM, with the Phillies, Cubs, Tigers, Yankees and Red Sox as the main bidders. If a team signs him before the end of August, he’ll be eligible to play in the postseason. (Here’s the latest on Castillo.)

Reactions To Manfred’s Election As Commissioner

Rob Manfred emerged yesterday as Major League Baseball’s next Commissioner, ultimately winning a unanimous election from the game’s owners after a minority group had initially gathered enough votes to stall Manfred’s victory. As Bob Nightengale of USA Today writes, the participants in the day’s proceedings emerged with a positive tone. “While Rob may not have been my initial choice for commissioner, the conclusion of a very good process was to name Rob as the person best positioned to help baseball endure  and grow even stronger for the next generation of fans,” said White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, said to have led the opposition. “Everyone wants baseball to flourish. Today’s decision was reached by 30 owners voting separately but speaking, in the end, with one voice.”

  • Manfred says he has a clear mandate on the game’s modernization, pointing to “a huge amount of consensus” in that area. Labor may prove a trickier field to navigate, though Manfred certainly has unmatched experience dealing with the MLB Player’s Association — which, in part, may have explained some of the resistance to his assumption of the Commissioner’s chair. “The biggest thing is always labor peace,” said Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner. “That’s never going to change. These things come around every few years and there’s a lot at stake.”
  • The relationship between Manfred and recently-elevated MLBPA executive director Tony Clark appears to be solid, writes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, who says that bodes well for the future. Many of the things that Manfred will hope to accomplish will require cooperation from the players, of course.
  • The new Commissioner-elect will indeed have many priorities to tick through, many of which Ben Nicholson-Smith of lists. Some relate to a theme that many have stressed in recent days: improving the game’s appeal to younger fans. Thorny player contract and competitive issues may also be on the table, with plenty of attention falling on service-time considerations in prospect promotions as well as the function of the qualifying offer system.
  • Earlier today, MLBTR’s Steve Adams asked readers to assess whether Manfred was the right choice. A plurality (and near-majority) concurred with the league’s owners, with nearly 30% of respondents saying that an alternative direction should have been pursued rather than Manfred and the other two finalists for the position.

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Poll: Was Manfred The Right Choice?

Major League Baseball owners yesterday elected MLB COO Rob Manfred as the successor to Bud Selig and next commissioner of baseball. While Manfred’s vote technically passed unanimously, there was a pronounced split for much of the day. Reportedly, 22 of the 30 teams were in favor of Manfred for much of the day, but it took quite some time for a 23rd team — said by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports to be the Nationals — to give Manfred the final vote he required. At that point, the remaining seven teams altered their vote as “an olive branch for posterity” (to use the words of the L.A. Times’ Bill Shaikin), knowing that their preferred candidate had no chance to win anyhow.

That preferred candidate was Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, although Werner wasn’t the only other finalist to give a presentation to owners yesterday. Joining Werner and Manfred was MLB executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan, though he appeared to be the first of the three to withdraw from consideration.

All three had their merits. Manfred has resided over labor negotiations and can boast 19 years of peace between MLB and the MLBPA, and he also has worked tirelessly to implement the current drug testing system in addition to spearheading last year’s Biogenesis investigation. Werner, whose background was in television before jumping to the baseball world, was believed by his supporters to possess the necessary knowledge to bolster MLB’s television ratings and revitalize interest in baseball among the youth of the United States and Canada. Brosnan’s business acumen was his strongest selling point, though he looked to be a distant third place behind his competitors not long after the announcement of the three finalists. (Of course, all three had their flaws as well, and MLBTR readers can get a brief rundown of each candidate in this piece from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.)

Prior to the announcement of the three finalists, other candidates for the position had included Giants president Larry Baer, Disney chief executive Bob Iger, Braves chairman Terry McGuirk, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, MLB Advanced Media CEO Bob Bowman and former Yale University president Richard C. Levin.

Manfred has long been rumored to be the preferred successor of retiring commissioner Bud Selig, and in the end, the seemingly likeliest option wound up getting the nod. Manfred will become just the 10th commissioner of the league and presumably will hold this post for a considerable amount of time. Should baseball fans be happy about the outcome of the election? Let’s find out how the MLBTR universe feels…

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.