The 30 MLB owners on Thursday voted unanimously to extend Rob Manfred’s tenure as commissioner another five years. He will now be the top officer in baseball through the 2024 season.
Manfred, 60, replaced Bud Selig in August 2014 to become baseball’s tenth commissioner.
Before ascending to the role of commissioner, Manfred spent one-year as MLB’s COO and was the executive vice-president for labor relations for 15 years before that. He’ll need his skill as a negotiator as a new collective bargaining agreement will be brokered during his extension.
Under his tenure, MLB has realized record revenues and announced an extension with Fox for expanded television rights.
Before the 2015 season, Manfred instituted rules to address the pace of play in an attempt to “modernize” play and speed of the game. Batters had to remain in the batter’s box and a time clock was instituted to limit the time around commercial breaks.
In 2018, further rules were adopted limiting the time in between innings breaks and also limiting player visits to the mound. He also instituted a high-profile domestic policy. Manfred also wants to expand internationally and to different locales in the USA. An example of that was a game played in Williamsport, Pa between the Mets and the Phillies during the 2018 Little League World Series.
Further potential rule changes will be discussed at the owner’s meetings in Atlanta this week.
Going forward, Manfred will have a number of issues with which to deal. First, there is the matter of declining attendance. Also, there was tension between baseball and MLB Players Association from last year with what the Players Association called a free-agent freeze last off-season. Many thought it was just due to the fact that owners tired of paying exorbitant contracts to players.
With several high-priced free agents on the market such as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, it will be interesting to see what transpires this off-season. Also, as mentioned, there will be a new collective bargaining negotiation during Manfred’s extension. There hasn’t been a strike in MLB since 1994 and no doubt, fans and MLB want to keep it that way.