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Rob Manfred’s letter to Senate contradicts Rob Manfred

Man who cut 42 minor league teams says minors would lose teams without MLB’s antitrust exemption

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MLB: ALDS-Chicago White Sox at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred sent a letter on Friday to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, defending the league’s antitrust exemption as it specifically regards minor league players.

“The specific baseball exemption has allowed MLB and its Partner Leagues to organize and offer fan-friendly and affordable baseball, featuring 184 teams located in 43 states,” Manfred said in the 17-page letter. “Without the exemption, there would be baseball in far fewer communities, and without MLB’s substantial subsidization, the cost of attending a Minor League baseball game would be significantly higher in many places.”

That line is especially rich coming from a league that cut 42 minor league teams after the 2020 season, trimming the minor leagues to 120 teams across the top four minor league levels, plus rookie-level teams at each team’s spring training complex and in the Dominican Summer League.

Advocates for Minor Leaguers, which sent its own letter to the Judiciary Committee three weeks earlier calling for living wages for minor league players, called out Manfred for changing his tune: “Just nine days ago, Commissioner Rob Manfred said, ‘I cannot think of a place where the exemption is really meaningful, other than franchise relocation.’ This morning, Manfred said the opposite.”

Senator Dick Durbin from Illinois, a member of the Judiciary Committee, told Bill Shaikin at the Los Angeles Times that Manfred’s letter “raises more questions than it answers.”

Who knows how this will end, but it would be worth watching the committee hold hearings at some point and have Manfred address the discrepancies under oath.


David Roth at Defector took a swing at Manfred’s letter, and an inherent laziness that is part of the role of MLB commissioner.

The Associated Press has a brief breakdown of bonuses paid from last year’s MLB Draft and international signing period. For example, among the 520 international amateurs signed in 2021, 43 players received a bonus of at least $1 million, 370 players got $20,000 or more, and 150 players received under $20,000 to sign.

Justin Turner isn’t expected to play at all during the entire Rockies series, still nursing abdominal tightness that sidelined him for five games earlier in the week. From Bill Plunkett at the Orange County Register, Turner said, “It doesn’t really make sense to push it right now and do something that could be a big setback and miss a lot of time. We’re in a nice spot. We’re pretty good (in the standings) so just taking it really slow. Just really trying to be patient with it.”

Eric Longenhagen at FanGraphs looked ahead at potential 40-man roster crunches coming this season with prospects added to rosters for each National League team. He notes the Dodgers have a particular glut in the outfield, some of whom could be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. “It’s logical for some of this tension to be relaxed via trade, either now or after the season,” Longenhagen wrote.

Zach Buchanan at The Athletic wonders why MLB lodges the draft into an already crowded All-Star week, making very few in and around the game happy. Says Buchanan:

The majority feel the new draft calendar creates more problems than it solves. The timing, one director-level staffer says, is “a very careless thing” that affects everyone in the game “down to the intern level.” Marketing baseball, some feel, has taken priority over the baseball itself.