On his one-year anniversary of becoming the new MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred sat down with Jeff Passan for a candid interview on the state of baseball.
Two NFL teams are about to move. Baseball is the sport that has gone the longest since a franchise relocated. Are you nearing that situation with Tampa Bay or Oakland?
It remains my strong preference, because I think it's a policy that has served baseball really well over time, to stay in the markets where we're located. We're going to exhaust every possibility to get stadiums done in Tampa Bay and Oakland. But clearly you would think I was sort of la-la if I didn't recognize at some point in time it may be necessary to consider alternatives.
Tampa just opened a chapter that could be really positive in that process, so I think it's going to be some time there. I would say sort of the same thing on Oakland. I think the A's are focused on Oakland as opposed to someplace outside of the immediate area. And as a result, it's going to take some time for the process to play out.
So what about Montreal? Brooklyn? Cuba? Passan actually cut that off before asking the two questions above:
Do you have any plans for expansion?
We're a growth business. Sooner or later, growth businesses expand. Having said that, I do not have a timetable. It's not a short-term project for us.
Add the Commissioner to the long list of people trying to keep the Rays in Tampa Bay.
Also of interest to Rays fans were some lengthy responses on the state of competitive balance.
With the grand disparity that exists between the highest- and lowest-earning clubs, how does the league foster competitive balance?
It's a continuing battle. What I'd say is the balance we're seeing right now is a product of the fact that we made progress on the amateur-talent acquisition system last time at a point when young talent was becoming more and more important in the game. That's not a panacea. You need another act. So we're going to have to continue to be creative to find ways to accomplish that result.
Are you still as bullish on the international draft as you once were, even with the logistical nightmare people who work internationally think will come of it?
I am. One hundred percent. I just think you've got to follow the fundamentals on this one. Getting into a single method of entry into the industry will be the most effective in terms of promoting competitive balance.
This is good news for the Rays, who are currently under a two year ban from spending more than $100,000 on international players due to signing 16-year old SS Adrian Rondon to a $3.1 million contract -- the same penalty levied against the Red Sox for spending $63 million on Yoan Moncada. A free market can only benefit the Rays.
Check out the whole interview for Manfred's thoughts on TV blackouts, domestic violence, diversity, the designated hitter, the hall of fame, and more.