MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred discusses free agency, labor issues

Manfred says the ‘clock is ticking,’ and both sides need to get it done within the next 24 hours. But during the free agency madness of the last few weeks, there were a lot…

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred discusses free agency, labor issues

Manfred says the ‘clock is ticking,’ and both sides need to get it done within the next 24 hours. But during the free agency madness of the last few weeks, there were a lot of speculations as to what the MLB might look like after the current collective bargaining agreement expires at midnight on Friday.

Before the owners try to nail down a new deal with the MLBPA, there are some clues that could give the next president of the MLB something to strategize on in 2019.

“I have learned, being on the labor side for the last three seasons, this is a long process,” Manfred said. “It’s a process of 2-3 years of grinding of negotiations and constant angst of uncertainty. It’s a work in progress for two and a half years.”

For instance, Manfred says that the next deal could be structured differently. If owners and players continue to make progress with the current CBA, the next major modification would be to raise the minimum salary.

“I would think the possibility [of having the CBA expire and have the minimum be raised] is a real possibility,” Manfred said. “I think it’s worth seeing how the business is responding now. The conditions are relatively good for players. It’s pretty clear they’re a lot better off today than they were in 2008.”

Pitching is one area where Manfred says that the two sides will work together to achieve a new agreement.

“I think that for the near future at least, the workload expectation for pitchers is growing,” Manfred said. “I would say we probably think we’re a little bit off the pace. We should probably be closer to the pace of play of the last couple years than we have been in the last three. We’ve had a lot of big pitching injuries. That’s going to be a priority and a goal for the owners as we try to come to a new CBA with the players’ association.”

Aside from the workload, a new drug policy with stiffer penalties for performance-enhancing drugs will be a major focus for the next year. But, while minor league players have been affected in their paths to the majors, with suspensions from PEDs, MLB is learning what works and what doesn’t.

“It’s clear we’ve got to have more focused efforts,” Manfred said. “I know we were not always successful at making sure that people understood, before they applied a penalty, what they were using, what they were not using, and what the consequences of going down that path might be. I’d expect the clubs and the league to do much better with that.”

By JASON SCHWARTZ , CNN

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