Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with reporters on Friday and discussed a variety of topics. The discussion as a whole is interesting and I highly recommend you read the whole breakdown, but here are your highlights that pertain most to the A's.
With the current collective bargaining agreement set to expire in December, the league and the player's association will have to meet to agree upon new terms. One potential sticking point may be compensation picks, posits author Brian MacPherson and it's not hard to see why. The quick and dirty on compensation picks: free agents that are offered a Qualifying Offer and reject it are slapped with a compensation pick. This means any team who signs said player will have to give up a draft pick, the position of which depends on the position of their first overall selection. Many deserving players have been deprived or delayed contracts due to the draft pick that goes along with their signing, something the MLBPA will likely try to change. Manfred was steadfast in his defense of the current system and noted it's been around for a long time, previously in the form of Type-A and Type-B free agents.
The goal of compensation picks is to give the league more balance, as (in theory) only the hyper rich can afford to sign players who decline qualifying offers. It hasn't worked out that way, as almost everyone has declined the offer and for the second time in two years, free agents worthy of contracts sit in limbo. The A's don't really dip into compensation picks in either form; the team typically trades players before they hit free agency and they don't sign expensive free agents. Should comp picks go away, the team might have a bigger free agent pool to choose from but without the comp picks attached, the monetary price tags of said free agents likely goes up.
The NL still won't be adopting a DH. How does that affect the A's? 15 less suitors for Billy Butler! In all seriousness, a DH change wouldn't actually be put into place for some time so it's not an immediate concern. The A's have struggled to find consistent DH play for a while now, and maybe an NL DH exacerbates the problem. Or maybe it just brings the rest of the league down to the A's level.
Pace of play
The league will again focus on increasing pace of play by shortening time in between innings and limiting visits to the mound. Makes sense why the A's shipped off notorious slowpoke Drew Pomeranz!
Expansion and the A's
Manfred noted that there are huge advantages (read: money) to a possible league expansion, but noted he'd like to deal first with the tenuous situations in Tampa Bay and Oakland.
Here are author of the story Brian Macpherson's thoughts:
The subtext there is that any cities that would be candidates for expansion teams also are cities that the Athletics and Rays can use as leverage against Oakland and the Tampa-St. Petersburg area in much the same way NFL teams repeatedly used Los Angeles as leverage in their own negotiations for stadiums. Expanding into two new markets before the Athletics and Rays have resolved their stadium situations would not be an effective negotiating strategy for Major League Baseball.
Hooray? While I have liked Manfred so far in the little attention I ever pay to the commissioner, I'm still skeptical of a commissioner ever actually doing anything for the A's. We all watched Bud Selig dilly dally for long enough to imagine the A's in O.Co in the year 2060.
Manfred will speak with the media in Arizona next week and we'll keep an eye out for that conversation.
Hope you like some Angels schadenfreude!
Angels' owner and mafia caricature Arte Moreno spoke to the press for the first time in some time as Spring Training prepares to start. The Angels are known for spending huge amounts of money, often poorly, yet they're poised to start the 2016 season with A's castoff Craig Gentry as their leftfielder (along with Daniel Nava in a very 2015 A's like platoon).
What gives? Many have postulated that Moreno's unwillingness to spend in 2016 is related to the luxury tax. Should a team exceed a payroll of $189 million, it is subject to a 17.5% penalty. That's a pretty penny. But Moreno denies that's what's keeping the Angels from upgrading its roster, one that could sorely use a few different upgrades as the division continues to improve.
"It has never been about that," Moreno said. "It has never been with the threshold."
So what's holding the Angels back?
"Does one of these guys give us a better chance to win? Sure they do," Moreno said of the big free agents. "But the reality is, are they a guarantee? And what we end up with is we end up with debt, we end up paying tax, and then it restricts what our flexibility is going forward."
So it's not about the luxury tax or the money, it's about the money and possible the luxury tax. Got it. Debt is a pretty interesting and telling word in that sentence, although it's hard to glean too much from a few sentences.
I'm a little bummed that Moreno has learned from his obvious mistakes, but the Angels still aren't in a good position post 2016 (or even maybe in 2016) so enjoy the Angels temporary state of disarray. Baseball moves pretty fast sometimes, if you don't stop and look around for the 2 next seasons, you could miss the Angels paying Josh Hamilton $24 million dollars to play for the Rangers. Or something like that.