TORONTO — MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is confident that team owners and the Players Association will negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement before the end of the postseason.
The new rules would include a possible elimination or alteration of the qualifying offer before the start of the free-agency season, which begins a week after the World Series ends.
“I do think that there’s a natural deadline there,” Manfred said Tuesday. “The idea of operating under the new agreement is an appealing one.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter has long championed an alteration to the issue of September call-ups, when clubs can play with a 40-man roster after Sept. 1.
Manfred said the issue was being negotiated.
“September call-ups were a non-controversial item for many, many years. I think the controversy has arisen because of the changes that have taken place in the game, and the way the game’s played, particularly the use of so many relievers, so many matchups, has made the presence of the extra players so much more visible,” Manfred said.
“It would make sense to get to a situation where we played our September games closer to the rules that we play with the rest of the year.”
In March 1999, the Orioles became the first major league team to play a game in Cuba since the embargo, but don’t expect them to return next spring. Tampa Bay played there this year, the first team to visit the island nation since the Orioles.
Manfred pointed out the World Baseball Classic is being played next March.
“I think it’s somewhat unlikely that in the same spring period when we were doing the WBC, that we would go back to Cuba,” Manfred said.
Manfred said that the major leagues would consider a return to Montreal as an expansion team after the new CBA is signed and stadium issues in Tampa Bay and Oakland are resolved. Adding two teams to bring the number to 32 would simplify scheduling, he said.
For the second straight year, the number of home runs was sharply up. Even though Jim Palmer, the Orioles great Hall of Famer pitcher thinks the balls are juiced, Manfred insists they are not.
“We have not been able to find any external cause that explains the spike in home runs,” Manfred said.