Ever since Bud Selig announced his impending retirement in September, the consensus was that Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball’s chief operating officer and Selig’s longtime right-hand man, would be his successor. But according to reports, Manfred’s ascension is far from a sure thing when MLB’s owners meet next Thursday in Baltimore to choose a replacement for Selig, who will officially step down on Jan. 25.
According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, MLB has narrowed its list down to three: Manfred; Tim Brosnan, MLB’s executive vice president of business; and Boston Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner. According to Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times, Werner’s candidacy has arisen as something of a rebuke to Selig, who looks to cement his legacy by shepherding Manfred, his hand-picked successor, to the MLB throne.
Werner, who also was the majority owner of the San Diego Padres for four mostly forgettable years from 1990 to 1994 but also found great success as a television producer from the 1970s onward, “is being supported by a small but influential group of owners who are strongly opposed to Manfred and desperately trying to find a way to block him,” Schmidt reports. The faction, led by White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, Red Sox chairman John Henry and Angels owner Arte Moreno, reportedly believes Manfred hasn’t been tough enough on the players’ union and doesn’t have the business savvy to reinvigorate baseball’s fan base, which is seen as trending older.
The debate over the next commissioner is all the more surprising considering that Selig and Reinsdorf are “longtime friends,” according to Schmidt. Selig reportedly caught wind of Reinsdorf’s opposition to Manfred this spring, leading to a falling out.
Selig and his allies are trying to shore up support for Manfred, Schmidt reports: “They have argued that Reinsdorf, who under Selig had been a member of the sport’s executive board, is only opposed to Manfred because he is afraid that his own influence in the game will wane.”
The winning candidate will need to secure 75 percent of the vote. In other words, at least 23 of the 30 owners.