MLB Rumors: Rob Manfred Not The Next Commissioner?

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Bud Selig

Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Bud Selig is headed into retirement in eight short months, and the succession plan he thought was in place may not be a sure as he once thought.

The New York Times reported last week that Selig held secret meetings with a handful of owners, informing them he would like his deputy, Rob Manfred, to be Major League Baseball’s next commissioner.

Selig’s meetings have included sevens owners, including Manfred and Jerry Reinsdorf of the Chicago White Sox. Reinsdorf told the New York Times he thinks Selig should not handpick the next commissioner, but instead have an advisory type of role in the process.

Mr. Reinsdorf argued that, unlike owners who have hundreds of millions of dollars invested in their teams, Mr. Selig has no ownership in the game after he retires.

Mr. Reinsdorf said he “had never said a bad word about Bud,” who he said “was the game’s best commissioner.” But he said that he believed that the owners — not Mr. Selig — should be in charge of picking the next one.

According to the report, after Selig assembled his succession committee, Reinsdorf began to petition that he and two others should run the league in place of one full-time commissioner.

People close to Reinsdorf believe Manfred would take power away from Reinsdorf, who has maintained a close relationship with Selig dating back to the time he owned the Milwaukee Brewers.

Mr. Reinsdorf’s allies say that after years of having a direct pipeline into Mr. Selig, the White Sox owner is concerned that his power could wane under Mr. Manfred; Mr. Reinsdorf has never been close to the 55-year-old deputy. Mr. Reinsdorf, a passionate advocate of owners’ taking a tougher stance with the players’ union and a central figure in the 1994-95 strike, is also driven by the belief that Mr. Manfred will not combat the union, with whom he has negotiated a series of collective bargaining agreements. Despite the lobbying, Mr. Manfred appears to be the front-runner for the position.

Reinsdorf has an ally in this process.

The New York Daily News reported Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno as another member of the succession committee that doesn’t view Manfred as “the right and natural choice to succeed Selig.

According the report, Reinsdorf is lobbying owners behind the scenes to find an alternative choice to Manfred or at least block his election.

According to multiple MLB sources, Reinsdorf, once Selig’s BFF, has been lobbying owners behind the scenes to come up with an alternative choice to Manfred — or, if nothing else, at least eight votes to block his election and create a void in the commissionership when Selig retires in January — a void that would theoretically extend into the negotiations for the next labor agreement with the present one expiring in 2016.

In an informal survey of owners and baseball officials by the Daily News, 19 clubs are believed to favor Manfred, four short of the 23 needed for election.

The Times names Disney C.E.O. Bob Iger, San Francisco Giants president Larry Baer, Atlanta Braves chairman Terry McGuirk, and Detroit Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski are potential candidates to succeed Selig.

Sam Spiegelman is a native New Yorker covering sports in New Orleans. He likes Game of Thrones way too much. Tweet him @samspiegs.