MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to Retire When Current Contract Ends

Wim De Gent
By Wim De Gent
February 16, 2024Sports News
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to Retire When Current Contract Ends
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 15, 2024. (Kim Klement Neitzel/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday that he will retire at the end of his current term, which expires on Jan. 25, 2029.

The 65-year-old commissioner made the declaration when asked a question about his future during a spring training press conference in Tampa, Florida.

“You can only have so much fun in one lifetime,” he said.

He pointed out that he will be 70 when his current term ends, concluding a 14-year stint as the chief executive officer of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the associated Minor League.

Mr. Manfred succeeded Bud Selig as the tenth Commissioner of Baseball in January 2015.

Three years into his initial five-year contract, owners voted in November 2018 to extend Mr. Manfred’s term through the 2024 season. The latest four-year addition was approved just last July.

“I have been open with them about the fact that this is going to be my last term,” Mr. Manfred said at the press conference. “I said it to them before the election in July, and I’m absolutely committed to that.”

Candidates to succeed Mr. Manfred have yet to emerge. One possible favorite is the 57-year-old Dan Halem, who joined MLB in 2007 as Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Labor. He was promoted to Deputy Commissioner, Baseball Administration in 2017.

Mr. Manfred said he expects owners to use a familiar system to find a replacement.

“I’m sure the selection process will look like it looked the last time,” Mr. Manfred said. “There will be a committee of owners that will be put together, and they’ll identify candidates via an interview process, and a slate of people will be put forward.”

The extension of his term gives Mr. Manfred the time to see a number of unresolved projects come to fruition. Among them are new ballparks for the Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays.

Tampa Bay plans to construct a new ballpark next to the current Tropicana Field, while the Oakland team received approval in November to move to Las Vegas, where the new ballpark is scheduled to open in 2028.

“I hope that I’m here to go to opening day as commissioner for both Tampa Bay and Las Vegas,” Mr. Manfred said.

However, he doubted the League’s expansion from 30 to 32 teams would be completed by 2028.

“I don’t think realistically those clubs would be playing before I’m finished,” he told reporters. Still, “I would like to have the process in place and operating before I go,” he added.

Mr. Manfred has been a strong advocate for shortening the time of games and addressing the pace of play, including a pitch clock, limiting mound visits, and reducing time in commercial breaks.

He also added a sixth playoff team to both leagues, something that drew mixed reviews. But this past season, the sixth-seeded Arizona Diamondbacks were the National League’s representative in the World Series before losing to the Texas Rangers.

When COVID-19 measures led to the delay of the 2020 season, Mr. Manfred eventually imposed a 60-game season following acrimonious negotiations between the players and the owners.

Also, Mr. Manfred was sharply criticized for granting immunity to players in exchange for testimony in the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal from the 2017 season, which led to the suspension of then-Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and then-manager A.J. Hinch for the 2020 season.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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