Commissioner Candidates: The Men Who Could Succeed Selig

From The BA Archives: Going Deep With Rob Manfred and Michael Weiner

Major League Baseball on Thursday could announce its first new commissioner since Allen Huber “Bud” Selig reluctantly stepped into the position in 1992 upon the resignation of Fay Vincent, who was forced out of office as he faced a majority no-confidence vote.

Three finalists—Major League Baseball executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan, MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred and Red Sox chairman Tom Werner—will reportedly make their presentations Wednesday before Thursday’s vote, with a candidate needing 75 percent (23 of 30 votes) to win.

The finalists were chosen by a committee chaired by Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr., and which included White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, Phillies CEO Dave Montgomery, Rockies owner Dick Monfort, Angels owner Arte Moreno, Pirates chairman Bob Nutting and Twins CEO Jim Pohlad.

MLB in January appointed the committee to find Selig’s successor.

Here are quick sketches of the finalists.

Rob Manfred

Manfred has worked for MLB since 1998 and moved to his current role of COO in September 2013 as Selig began his transition toward retirement in January. Manfred, 55, is a Cornell grad, and got his law degree from Harvard and is married with four children. In his time with MLB, Manfred is credited with negotiating labor peace with the Players Association through collective bargaining agreements reached in 2002, 2006 and 2011. He played an active role in developing harsher penalties for players who use performance enhancing drugs. As COO, Manfred works with clubs on stadium and broadcasting issues.

Manfred is Selig’s choice as successor, as evidence by the September 2013 move to COO. But according to reports, some owners believe Manfred strikes too conciliatory a pose toward the MLBPA and that his appointment would be an extension of Selig’s tenure.

Tom Werner

Werner, perhaps best known as a TV producer of such hits as The Cosby Show, Roseanne and That 70s Show—a Carsey-Werner Production was a frequent graphic on most TV screens—has been chairman of the Boston Red Sox since 2002. He also presided over the San Diego Padres when he was part of a group that bought the fledgling franchise from Joan Kroc in 1990 for $75 million. In his time as owner of the Padres, the team hit rock bottom in 1993 with a fire sale that resulted in the trades of players such as Gary Sheffield and Fred McGriff. His time as majority owner ended in 1994 when John Moores acquired an 80 percent share and Werner retained 10 percent until selling out to Moores before the 2007 season.

His inclusion as a candidate to succeed Selig is seen as a surprise to many who believe Werner is a mere stalking horse used by White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and others to thwart Manfred’s candidacy. Selig went so far as to issue a statement denying there was a rift between him and Reinsdorf, but Werner nevertheless has emerged as the main threat to an orderly succession by Selig’s top lieutenant.

Tim Brosnan

Brosnan, 56, has had an extremely low profile for someone working in Selig’s office since 1991. A baseball player at Georgetown who got his law degree from Fordham, his current title is executive vice president for business for MLB, a role he was appointed to in 2000. He is credited with spearheading MLB’s national TV deals, as well as playing a key role in the development of the MLB Network and the creation of the World Baseball Classic, baseball’s biggest international foray.

His inclusion as a candidate was also not expected to many outsiders who see him as a potential compromise candidate should neither Manfred nor Werner get the requisite 23 votes.

What is clear is that there is no clear process if one of the three finalists does not emerge as the victor Thursday.

Even Selig himself wouldn’t speculate.

“I’m not going to deal in hypotheticals,” Selig told reporters at a press conference at Camden Yards Tuesday. “We have a very well-refined process. I think there’s been enough time. So I’ll play this hour by hour, vote by vote.”