Houston will the scene for a quarterly meeting of MLB’s owners, and the sexiest issue on the table will not be Nintendo selling its stake in the Seattle Mariners. Players want more time off during the season, and the league is at least willing to listen.
Manfred has been more than willing to at least consider a number of steps, including reducing the regular season from 162 to 154 games, but he has also warned that there are resulting economic consequences that must be considered.
One compromise reportedly could be to increase the roster size from the current 25.
Trickle-down effects of shrinking the schedule even just eight games means that revenue drops from the subtraction of four home games and four away games. Stadium employees lose hours. TV contracts have to revisited. Players, Manfred has said, will lose money as well - “You want to work less, usually you get paid less,” he told reporters at the All-Star Game this past July. However, Manfred is saying he and the owners are open to working something out.
The MLBPA and MLB had also attempted to form a cohesive, agreeable plan for an international draft in 2013 to be implemented in 2014, but missed their deadline (Players are against the idea, the league wants to have one). It was decreed that the topic would not surface again until this year, when the collective bargaining agreement was scheduled to expire.
Rob Manfred was already supporting the draft in his first day as MLB commissioner back in January 2015:
I think over the long haul my goal in that area would be to get to an international draft. I think that would be best for the sport. There are reasons why we’ve taken steps in that direction but not got all the way there. I don’t want to get deep on bargaining priorities, but I think the international draft will be another topic of discussion.
Manfred has no qualms about considering the merits of potential change to the sport. Just days ago he was reiterating his enthusiasm for a twenty second pitch-clock, calling himself a “big fan” of the idea. In a column published for ESPN, he talked about how his embrace of change is motivated by the philosophy of doing what’s best for the fans.
Tasked with maintaining the labor peace MLB has enjoyed since 1994-95, the league and its union have a few issues to iron out this week. With baseball already visibly different under Manfred’s tenure, it could look change even more, for better or for worse, in the years to come.