SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The national pastime found itself intertwined with the national election Tuesday night at baseball’s GM meetings, where team executives and the assembled media watched Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton to cap an historic and ultimately shocking race for the White House.
The following afternoon, in his briefing with reporters, commissioner Rob Manfred took the stage and couldn’t ignore the events of the past 24 hours.
“It’s been an interesting couple of weeks,” Manfred said. “The Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years. Donald Trump got elected president. Pretty interesting all the way around. So here we are.”
Manfred laughed. Although that was the end of this political commentary, the commissioner did field a question regarding Trump, on whether his new position might affect MLB’s international business affairs. After the exhibition game in Cuba last March, there has been talk about a freer exchange of talent between the island nation and the U.S., along with the usual conversations about playing more games on foreign soil and possibly expanding to Mexico.
“I haven’t heard anything with respect to the Cuba issue that would suggest there’s going to be any change,” Manfred said. “And I think we’re all familiar with things [Trump] said about Mexico. I think we need to wait and see what actually happens.”
As for more immediate concerns, Manfred is working with the Players Association on a new collective bargaining agreement in the hope of getting it done before the current one expires on Dec. 1. Manfred had been aiming for the conclusion of the World Series. But with a number of thorny issues, such as an international draft, the continuing debate over free-agent compensation and a new luxury tax threshold, it’s no surprise the process is taking longer.
“There’s a couple of natural deadlines,” Manfred said. “One is the beginning of free agency and the other one is obviously the expiration date. We missed deadline one, so we’re looking at deadline two now.”