MLB commissioner Rob Manfred had a wide-ranging conversation with reporters today in San Diego. Here’s a little of what he had to say, via Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter links: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8), Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller (1 2 3), David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (1) and John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- Manfred lists the number of African-American players (currently 8%, although he says 20% of recent first-round draft picks have been African-American) as a significant concern. “This is an economic imperative for us,” he says, noting that, as the US becomes increasingly diverse, MLB must strive for diversity as well. On a somewhat related note, Manfred also said that the lack of a Latino manager in the game right now was “glaring.”
- MLB will not consider expanding until the Rays and Athletics get their stadium issues resolved, Manfred says. Manfred sounds determined to keep a team in Oakland, however. “I am committed to Oakland as a major league site,” he says. If the A’s were to depart, “we would be looking backwards and saying we made a mistake.” He adds that he thinks the Oakland market will be increasingly appealing going forward. “I think the growth in that area, the way the growth has moved up into San Francisco, I think Oakland is more likely than not to be a better market five years from now than it is today,” he says.
- Perhaps unsurprisingly, Manfred said he was confident that labor talks this offseason would not result in a strike or lockout.
- Of the current clamor to raise wages for minor league players (which has included a class-action lawsuit brought by former minor leaguers), Manfred says, “Excessive regulation could have a really dramatic impact on the size of minor league baseball,” seemingly suggesting that increased wages might result in the folding of some minor league teams.
- It sounds like Manfred expects some form of draft pick compensation for free agents to continue into the next Collective Bargaining Agreement — he says owners would be making a “major concession” if draft-pick compensation were to be dropped.
- It sounds like Manfred did not come out in support of an international draft today quite as strongly as he has in the past, but he did say MLB needs “a more transparent operating system in the international player acquisition process.”
- Manfred admits that the current 162-game schedule is tough on players, and says players and owners are currently discussing ways to reduce the difficulty of the season by optimizing game times and improving teams’ travel schedules. Of the possibility of reducing the number of games, however, he says, “You want to work less, generally you get paid less.”
- The league has not received enough information from law enforcement to decide whether Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang, who has been accused of sexual assault, should be placed on administrative leave.