Commissioner Manfred Speaks: "Good" Offer Coming, Spring Training, Timing, DH Coming, Much More

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Commissioner Manfred Speaks: “Good” Offer Coming, Spring Training, Timing, DH Coming, Much More

Chicago Cubs

Today, Commissioner Rob Manfred met with the media for the first time since the lockout began 71 days ago, and the best thing I can say is that it wasn’t a disaster. I don’t know how meaningful it was either, but we’ve come to expect certain things in these situations, and I expected more shots at the MLBPA and blame-gaming. There really wasn’t much of that – beyond a “phones work two ways” quip – and instead the heavy focus was on how good the owner offers have been. I don’t agree that the owner offers so far have been reasonable, but I do at least appreciate keeping the focus there, rather than taking a dump on the players and just ratcheting up the temperature.

That said, holding serve in a presser really only matters so much. What *really* matters is how much the owners move in their offer on Saturday. If it’s barely negligible, which is how things have looked before, then you worry about Opening Day going poof.

Some of Manfred’s comments …

⇒ No announcement on delaying Spring Training just yet:

⇒ Manfred says the offer will move the process forward, but I don’t know that there’s any evidence in the last two years to believe that:

⇒ If you want to be uncynical, you say the league is simply holding out hope beyond hope that a deal comes together on Saturday, or that the sides make significant progress and they jointly adjust the Spring Training schedule and they will announce that while holding hands. I am more cynical on that particular point, and I instead think the idea is that by waiting to say anything, the owners get to set up a PR win: if the players do anything less than total acceptance on Saturday, then MLB can announce the delay to Spring Training, and it looks like it’s because the players refused the offer. There’s no way an Offseason Part Two could take place in just four days, right?

⇒ Well. As for timing, Manfred today said that about four weeks of Spring Training is necessary for health and safety, and that camps could start in under a week after the CBA is finished:

⇒ So, that sets up a potentially different timeline for preserving Opening Day, as it would be theoretically possible if a deal was done by March 1. But, I mean, seriously? Under a week to get international players their visa situations cleared up, free agency to finish, trades and extensions, all of arbitration, spring roster planning, and on and on. Obviously the league has decided that much of that can take place coterminously with Spring Training, which I think really sucks for the players (and potentially the fans), but that might be part of the idea.

⇒ This is one absolutely correct thing he said, and Stark is right to underscore it:

⇒ But will it actually happen? Manfred was relatively generic in his optimism:

⇒ When asked later whether he was just optimistic by nature, or whether that was a reflection of where talks stand, and he demurred – just saying that in these kinds of talks, it helps you to stay optimistic. Something like that.

⇒ It’s been reported before, but Manfred confirmed it today: the universal designated hitter (and getting rid of draft pick penalties for free agents) has been included in MLB offers. So there is fundamentally agreement on those two issues. Start (continue) your Cubs DH discussions.

⇒ There will be no “scab” requests of minor league players this Spring, which is good:

⇒ Couldn’t help himself with this one, which, hey, might be true, but I’d have to see the math on that:



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.