NEW YORK — Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics need to reach new ballpark deals soon and left open the possibility of considering relocation if agreements are not struck.
“There is urgency with respect to Tampa,” Manfred said Thursday during a news conference following an owners meeting. “There needs to be a resolution in the Tampa Bay region for the Rays.”
Tampa Bay’s lease at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the team has played since its inaugural season in 1998, expires after the 2027 season.
The Rays said in January that MLB had rejected the team’s plan to split its season between Florida and Montreal.
“Obviously, the end of that lease is a hard deadline, but you need to take into account that stadiums take a little bit of time to build, right?” Manfred said. “So we are getting to the point where wherever it is in the region that has an interest in having 162 baseball games, they need to get to it, get with the club – I know the Rays are anxious to get something done – and see if a deal can be made.”
Asked whether he was considering relocation, Manfred responded: “Right now, I’m focused on Tampa,” putting emphasis on “right now” and later adding he was referring to the region, not the specific side of the bay. “I think a great man once said, all good things must end at some point. But right now we’re focused on Tampa.”
The Athletics have played at the Coliseum since 1968 and their lease expires after the 2024 season. The A’s have proposed a new ballpark at Howard Terminal and are working with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf to gain the necessary approvals.
“There is really significant activity in Oakland. The political process has moved along significantly,” Manfred said. “I met with Mayor Schaaf last week. She has done a really good job at moving the process forward in Oakland. But as you all know, California political processes are their own sort of animal. There’s work to do on the Oakland side. I think the A’s prudently have continued to pursue the Las Vegas alternative. We like Las Vegas as a market. Again, it’s in the same category as Tampa. We need a solution in both those markets and the time has come for that solution.”
Oakland has averaged a major league-low of 8,283 fans this season and the Rays are 25th at 13,740, ahead of Miami, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
PITCH CLOCK: Pitch clocks have shortened games by an average of 29 minutes in the minor leagues this year as the season nears the halfway point.
Minor league games with a pitch clock have averaged 2 hours, 35 minutes, down from 3:04 through June 14 last year, in an experiment that Major League Baseball is preparing for possible adoption in 2023.
However, robot umpires calling balls and strikes are not close to a big league promotion.
Triple-A is using a pitch clock of 14 seconds when no runners are on base and 19 seconds with runners on, while lower levels are using 14/18. Experiments are also underway with limits on defensive shifts and use of larger bases.
Mariners: All-Star outfielder Jesse Winker and Seattle avoided a salary arbitration hearing when they agreed to a $14.5 million, two-year contract.
Winker gets $6.25 million this year and $8.25 million in 2023.
ORIOLES 10, BLUE JAYS 2: Cedric Mullins had three hits, Tyler Wells pitched six in to win back-to-back starts for the first time, and the Orioles pounded former Baltimore pitcher Kevin Gausman in a win at Toronto.
Wells (4-4) allowed one run and five hits, completing six in consecutive starts for the first time in his career as the Orioles split the four-game series.
Austin Hays hit his ninth home run, a solo shot off Matt Gage in the eighth, and Rougned Odor had two hits and two RBI.
Pitching for the first time against the team that drafted him, Gausman (5-6) allowed a season-worst seven runs – five earned – and seven hits in 2 1/3 innings, his shortest outing of 2022. Gausman, who lost his third straight start, hadn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of his 12 previous starts.
GUARDIANS 4, ROCKIES 2: José Ramírez doubled for his eighth straight game with an extra-base hit and Cleveland matched a season high with its fourth win in a row, beating sloppy Colorado in Denver.
Ramírez hit an opposite-field grounder that hugged the third-base line against an exaggerated shift in the first inning. He is the first major leaguer with extra-base hits in eight consecutive games since Cincinnati’s Joey Votto in 2020.
Amed Rosario extended his hitting streak to 10 games with an RBI single to cap a three-run third inning. He is 18 for 42 (.429) during his streak and was 6 for 13 with three extra-base hits in the three-game series at Coors Field.
PADRES 6, CUBS 4: Joe Musgrove pitched seven effective innings in his third straight win, and visiting San Diego handed Chicago its 10th consecutive loss.
Musgrove (8-0) permitted two runs and five hits, struck out a season-high nine and walked one. The 6-foot-5 right-hander has allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his 12 starts this year.
With Portland’s Ryan Flaherty again filling in as manager while Bob Melvin is in COVID protocols, San Diego finished its first four-game series sweep of Chicago since Aug. 16-19, 2010, at Wrigley Field. The Padres’ 41-24 record matches their best 65-game start since 1998, when the club won the NL West and advanced to the World Series.
The Cubs have been outscored 90-28 during their longest slide since they lost 12 consecutive games from Aug. 5-16. They have held leads in seven of the 10 straight losses.
US Open notebook: Rahm finishes opening round with adventurous par-birdie