Pros/cons of Werner's candidacy for commissioner

Pros/cons of Werner's candidacy for commissioner
August 6, 2014, 1:00 am
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ST. LOUIS -- Red Sox chairman Tom Werner is one of three finalists to become the next commissioner of baseball, with a vote expected next week to choose Bud Selig's successor at owner's meetings in Baltimore, two baseball sources confirmed.

Current Major League Baseball executives Rob Manfred and Tim Brosnan are also candidates.

Though he publicly professed as recently as a month ago that he had no interest in the position, Werner told friends in the game earlier this year that the job had appeal to him.

Selig, who has been on the job for 22 seasons and intends to retire in January, has made it known that he wants Manfred, who has been his right-hand man for several years, to be his successor. Manfred has extensive experience when it comes to negotiating with the MLB Players Association and the next commissioner will have to craft a new collective bargaining agreement after the 2015 season.

But several owners have balked at Selig's power play to have Manfred succeed him, fearful that they'll be frozen out of decision-making in the future.

These owners -- led by Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Arte Moreno of the Los Angeles Angels -- see Werner as their candidate and have encouraged his candidacy.

Whomever is selected must be approved by 23 of the 30 owners -- or a three-quarters margin.

Werner may have a tough time winning the votes of Selig loyalists who would favor Manfred. Additionally, there will doubtless be a block of teams uncomfortable with the idea of an owner of the Boston Red Sox moving directly to the commissioner's office.

The New York Yankees, for instance, would not vote for Werner and would need only seven other clubs to vote with them to derail Werner's candidacy.

But in Reinsdorf and Moreno, Werner has two powerful and influential owners who could swing some votes his way.

Werner has two strong selling points for the position, a high-ranking baseball official confided. First, he's been an owner of a both a small-market team -- Werner was the managing general partner of the San Diego Padres from 1990 to 1994 -- and a big-market team (the Red Sox).

He also been a highly successful television producer, helping to create such hit sitcoms as "Roseanne" and "The Cosby Show.''

His knowledge and familiarity of the television industry would be most helpful in the commissioner's post, even though Selig recently negotiated several national TV deals with ESPN, Fox and TBS that doubles the previous rights fees.

Reinsdorf, who was once seen as Selig's closest and most important allies among owners and was among the game's hardliners toward the player's union, has seen his influence wane in recent years.

He could now deny Selig's last wish -- to hand-pick his successor -- if he could marshall enough support for Werner, or, perhaps, settle on another compromise candidate to serve as a viable alternative to Manfred.

Ironically, Werner who was brought into the the Boston ownership picture by Selig who linked him with John Henry, could now be viewed as a vessel for owners unhappy with Selig and his choice for successor.

Werner, of course, would have to divest his ownership of the Sox. Currently, he's now the third largest shareholder behind only Henry and Michael Gordon. 

Werner's ownership stake is thought to be approximately 10 percent.

The list of the three finalists was first reported by USA Today.