Manfred: Trump should not impact MLB international plans
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. » Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred does not think Donald Trump’s election as president will slow the sport’s plans to stage more events in Latin America.
Expanding international play has been one of Manfred’s goals since succeeding Bud Selig as commissioner in January 2015. San Diego and Houston played a two-game spring training series this year in Mexico City, where the sport opened an office last March and which Manfred has mentioned as a possible expansion site.
Tampa Bay met Cuba’s national team in Havana on March 22, the first visit to the island by a big league baseball club since 1999. MLB hopes to establish a process that would allow Cuban residents to sign big league contracts.
“Haven’t heard anything with respect to the Cuba issue that would suggest that there’s going to be any change, and I think we’re all familiar with things he said about Mexico,” Manfred said Wednesday at the annual general managers meeting. “I think we need to wait and see what actually happens.”
Team executives and agents discussing deals watched election coverage in shock Tuesday night in the Mbar off the central courtyard at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia, some with looks of anguish on their faces.
Manfred opened his news conference by stating: “It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years. Donald Trump got elected president. Pretty interesting all the way around. So here we are.” He then laughed.
On other topics:
Dan Halem, baseball’s chief legal officer, updated GMs on talks for a labor contract to replace the five-year deal that expires Dec. 1. Manfred had hoped for an agreement before the end of the World Series last week. Teams with high payrolls would like to know the level of the luxury-tax threshold, which was $189 million this year.
“There’s a couple of natural deadlines,” Manfred said. “One is the beginning of free agency and the other one’s obviously the expiration date. Well, we missed deadline one, so we’re looking at deadline two now.”
Manfred said he anticipated it would take time for MLB to investigate New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia under its domestic violence policy. A complaint in municipal court in Fort Lee, New Jersey, dated Oct. 31 alleged the All-Star pitcher caused “bodily injury to another.” A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 14.
“I think that it is usually difficult for us to complete our investigation before the criminal process has run its course,” Manfred said. “We have the luxury of not being on the field right now, and we’re going to take advantage of that.”
2020 Tokyo Olympics
MLB has not yet spoken with the World Baseball Softball Confederation about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Japanese baseball and Olympic officials would like major leaguers to participate, but MLB and its players are reluctant because the Olympics will be held from July 24 to Aug. 9.
“We’ve had an exchange of letters, We’ve asked them to come in and explain exactly what the program is going to look like in order to put us in a position to make a firm evaluation,” Manfred said.