Rob Manfred made an empty threat against Oakland

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Well, I hope you’re sitting down for this. It’s some real heavy stuff. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has threatened the city of Oakland. Saying the team could move to Las Vegas wasn’t enough: now the league is preparing to impose sanctions. In addition to claiming the A’s won’t be forced to pay relocation fees should they need to move, now Manfred has said if Oakland doesn’t give in and hand the A’s the stadium deal they’re looking for, so help them MLB is going to take away the A’s revenue-sharing dollars in 2024. May God have mercy on their souls.

If you can’t tell by all the ham above, this is some real goofy, empty threatening here, even my MLB commissioner standards. Neil deMause already covered quite a bit of the emptiness of it all at Field of Schemes, so you should read that, but I’ll grab a choice quote all the same:

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Bryan Reynolds requested a trade out of Pittsburgh because why wouldn’t he?

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The news that Bryan Reynolds (a) requested a trade from the Pirates and (b) that it was initially unclear why he’d do that was, respectively, bound to happen, and very funny. Reynolds is a player who can make an all-star team, not a perennial MVP candidate, but he’s a poor fit for the Pirates and everyone involved knows it. As Ken Rosenthal put it, the Pirates should deal Reynolds as he asked, but because, “they cannot agree with him on an extension. They should trade him because they will not spend enough to build around him. And they should trade him because his value from this point will only decline.”

He’s going to be just 28 in 2023, but yes, the amount of time a new club would have control of Reynolds will only decline from here on out, so his value will most likely dip on that front. As of now, a new club would get three years out of him, and could extend him if both parties were amenable. That’s a thing that’s not going to happen in Pittsburgh: remember, Reynolds has three years left in town and already asked to be shipped out, so you can imagine how well the existing extension talks have gone.

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Meet the new Twins’ boss, nephew of the old Twins’ boss

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The Twins have given us yet another offseason story to follow up on revolving around change. Like the Brewers, the Twins are also losing out on the benefit of playing in a terrible division, thanks to the more streamlined and balanced schedule of 2023 and beyond: no longer will Minnesota—when they’re one of the good ones, anyway—be able to feast on the dregs of the American League Central 19 times per year each. While Milwaukee got a write-up for dumping salary (with more dumping to come) in reaction to or in spite of this change, the Twins haven’t actually done anything different yet. But we should pay attention to how they behave all the same, because of a change in executive and ownership leadership.

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Brewers’ salary dump might mean one less competitive club in 2023

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One thing to keep in mind this offseason is that you need to change the lens through which you’re viewing the winter’s transactions. With the revamped schedule format of 2023, you can’t necessarily use the old thinking when it comes to the moves that teams make. For instance, look at the Brewers’ trade of Hunter Renfroe to the Angels: he’s expected to make around $11 million in arbitration next year, so the Brewers dumped him despite the fact he hit .255/.315/.492 with 29 homers in a year where offense and dinger rates were terrible for people not named Aaron Judge and Kyle Schwarber. Renfroe’s hit a combined .257/.315/.497 with 60 long balls the past two seasons 269 games, will be just 31 in 2023, and, by OPS+, was Milwaukee’s leading hitter this past year.

To put it another way, even ESPN’s Buster Olney chided the Brewers for what is an obvious salary dump:

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MLB investigating Mets, Yankees over Aaron Judge free agency story

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Major League Baseball is investigating whether or not “improper communication” occurred between the Yankees and the Mets regarding the free agency of slugger Aaron Judge, at the behest of the Players Association. The source of all of this was a story by Andy Martino, published on November 3, that discussed how Hal Steinbrenner and Steve Cohen had a “mutually beneficial” relationship, and therefore the Mets would not attempt to pry Judge away from the Yankees:

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Dusty Baker, James Click, and Jim Crane’s cruel efficiency

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Jeff Luhnow might not be with the Astros any longer, and hasn’t been for a few years, but the culture he fostered certainly still exists in some form. No, no, I’m not talking about the cheating scandal — you can put down those pitchforks and alt accounts, Astros fans — but instead the central conceit of the Luhnow-era team: everyone and everything is a tool to be used until it can be thrown away. The fast-acting poison that is McKinsey’s obsession with efficiency and dehumanization has not vanished from Houston, just because the man who introduced it has.

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Mailbag: Under the radar minor-league CBA issues

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Mailbag! If you have a mailbag question you’d like to see answered, either respond to this newsletter email, or hit me up on @Marc_Normandin on Twitter. Here goes.

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Consider the source of A’s, Rays stadium rumors

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Last week, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred gave an update on the stadium situations in Oakland and Tampa Bay, for the A’s and Rays, respectively. He was appearing on SiriusXM Radio with host Chris Russo, who asked about what was going on in those two markets: at this point, the Rays have been making noise about needing a new stadium or leaving for seemingly longer than they have not, while the A’s release some annoyed statement every few months when things aren’t moving along as quickly or as in-their-favor-y as they’d like in their quest to have Oakland pay for all or most of a new park.

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Minor League collective bargaining has begun

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Well, it’s actually happening. There is a minor-league sub-unit of the Major League Baseball Players Association, and they’ve officially entered into the collective bargaining process with the league, according to The Athletic’s Evan Drellich. The two sides — the players once again represented by Bruce Meyer, the league by deputy commissioner Dan Halem — “made presentations for their respective sides,” which is how these things open, especially when there is no existing CBA to work off of.

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Mailbag: Changing minor-league team control

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It’s time for a mailbag. If you have a mailbag question you’d like to see answered, either respond to this newsletter email, or hit me up on @Marc_Normandin on Twitter. Here goes.

Payment and living conditions are likely big items, as well as getting spring training pay formalized, but what are the issues MiLB might try and address that might have drastic impact on team/player control for minor league players? -@ERolfPleiss

That… is a great question. Realistically, this first time out, I’m not sure if it will be a priority to change how long minor leaguers are under the control of one club. It becomes very hard to change things that have already been agreed upon in a prior collective bargaining agreement, and while this will be the first between minor-league players and MLB, there are already rules and regulations in place in the existing CBA between MLB’s players and the league.

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