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Oakland mayor says MLB commissioner Rob Manfred warned city A’s could move to Las Vegas; Manfred says nothing on tap

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Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf confirmed in a television interview Tuesday that Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred warned city officials that the Athletics could relocate to Las Vegas if the city didn’t drop its lawsuit to stop Alameda County from selling its share of the Coliseum to the team.

Manfred confirmed Tuesday that Las Vegas came up during a meeting with Schaaf, but said there are no plans for the A’s to move.

“In a recent meeting with the mayor of Oakland, I did mention Las Vegas in the context of pointing out that the A’s might have to relocate if a new stadium can’t be built in Oakland,” Manfred told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “There is, however, no plan to move to Las Vegas.”

Oakland and Alameda County share ownership of the Coliseum; the city wants the county to sell its half of the stadium to Oakland instead of to the A’s. The San Francisco Chronicle reports the city can’t match the A’s offer of $85 million for the venue.

City Councilman Larry Reid told the newspaper earlier this week that Manfred had made the suggestion that Las Vegas could be a possible relocation site for the A’s in meetings with city officials last week.

“The reports of that are accurate,” Schaaf said in the interview with KTVU-TV. “[Las Vegas] is the city that came out of his mouth.”

Oakland will soon lose its NFL team, the Raiders, to Las Vegas, possibly as soon as 2020. So Manfred’s choice of a possible relocation city was meant to strike a nerve, Schaaf said.

“Obviously he chose his city wisely as far as exposing a pain-point that all Oaklanders feel about losing our sports teams,” she said. She later called the lawsuit “misguided.”

Oakland had sued Alameda County to block its sale of its share of the Coliseum to the A’s and a judge issued a temporary restraining order last week, blocking the transaction. The A’s, who want to build a new stadium at Howard Terminal on the waterfront and redevelop the land around the Coliseum, are hoping it would help subsidize the cost of a privately owned new stadium.

A’s president Dave Kaval said last week that the franchise was “blindsided” by the restraining order being granted.

“I will say, though, that I absolutely see a path to a new ballpark right … at Howard Terminal,” Schaaf said. “As well as really giving the A’s the opportunity to do a community-serving development out at the Coliseum, as well as to maintain that as a background plan. I see this path. I am confident we will get there.”

Schaaf told KTVU that the city’s lawsuit was filed “over my objection.”

“I don’t think that it serves the public when two governmental entities are suing each other,” Schaaf said. “It certainly is my direction that the city and the county work collaboratively. We are co-owners of this land. The board of supervisors are so well-intentioned. They want to do right by their constituents, which are our constituents, so I believe we will get something done collaboratively and put this lawsuit behind us.”

The next court hearing in the city’s lawsuit is scheduled for Nov. 14, according to the Chronicle.

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MLB, MLBPA agree on stipulations for return of 2020 season

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Major League Baseball owners have approved a plan to address salary and service-time issues amid the indefinite delay to the start of the regular season, according to ESPN and multiple reports.

The owners completed an agreement reached between MLB and the players’ union Thursday night, which came after nearly two weeks of morning-to-night negotiations that involved players, owners, agents, executives, union officials and commissioner’s office staff.

As part of the agreement, obtained by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the players and MLB primarily agreed that the 2020 season will not start until each of the following conditions were met:

  • There are no bans on mass gatherings that would limit the ability to play in front of fans. However, the commissioner could still consider the “use of appropriate substitute neutral sites where economically feasible”;

  • There are no travel restrictions throughout the United States and Canada;

  • Medical experts determine that there would be no health risks for players, staff or fans, with the commissioners and union still able to revisit the idea of playing in empty stadiums.

While there was no formal framework in the agreement, owners and players both want to play as many games as possible. The flexibility of both sides was seen in the willingness to extend the regular season into October, play neutral-site playoff games in November and add doubleheaders to the schedule.

Players pushed to receive a full year of service time, which counts days toward free agency, arbitration and pension, even in the event of a canceled season. When MLB agreed to grant that, the path to a deal coming together was forged, sources said.

The union agreed not to sue the league for full salaries in the event that the 2020 season never takes place, and MLB will advance players $170 million over the next two months, sources said. The MLBPA will divvy up the lump sum among four classes of players, with the majority of it going to those with guaranteed major league contracts. If games are played, the advance will count against final salaries, which will be prorated.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has the discretion to shorten the 2020 draft to as few as five rounds, and it will be moved from June to sometime in July, sources said.

Manfred also can delay the 2020 international signing period, which was supposed to run from July 2, 2020, through June 15, 2021, to at latest Jan. 1, 2021 through Dec. 15, 2021. MLB also has the right to shorten the 2021 draft to as few as 20 rounds and push back the next international signing period as well — though international free agency might well be gone by then, as the league plans to pursue an international draft at the conclusion of the current collective bargaining agreement, which runs out in December 2021.

Sources said players drafted in 2020 will get only $100,000 of their bonus this year. The remaining amount will be split into payments made in July 2021 and July 2022.

Also, teams will be unable to trade draft picks or international slot money, sources said.

Mookie Betts, J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer and Marcus Stroman, among others, are guaranteed to be free agents come November regardless of the season’s status. If the year is canceled, Betts might never play for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who traded for him this offseason.

A transaction freeze will go into effect when owners make the deal official that bars teams from signing free agents, trading players and making roster moves.

A rejiggered setting for arbitration, the system that awards players with three, four and five years of service time with higher salaries. While arbitration is a numbers- and precedent-based system typically, the sides will change that to acknowledge the shorter schedule.

Any players punished with a drug suspension will serve the penalty in 2020, even if there is no season, sources said.

While both sides believed they made concessions, they settled around an obvious point: No sports league wants to be seen as bickering about billions of dollars amid an international health and financial crisis. In addition to the agreed-upon financial particulars, the parties engaged in significant discussions about the most vital issue now and in the future: how to proceed amid the outbreak of COVID-19 cases.

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Rays hope all the pieces fit

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Spring is here and Eric Karabell misses baseball, so he is going to write about all 30 MLB teams over the next few months, covering myriad player values and his general thoughts for what he hopes will ultimately be a fruitful 2020 season.

Let’s continue our look into the 2020 season with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Top fantasy storyline: In 2018, left-hander Blake Snell won 21 games with a 1.89 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. Last season, right-hander Tyler Glasnow posted a 1.78 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP over 12 starts. Wow, what a duo! They should both be top-10 fantasy starters! Well … Snell’s compromised left elbow necessitated a cortisone shot in March, and he would have missed the start of the season had it begun on time. Glasnow missed much of 2019 with forearm tightness, which is often a precursor to major elbow surgery. Sure, these fellows could be great, but do not assume a shortened season aids them.

Oh, and one more thing: When will Wander wander into the major leagues?

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Noah Syndergaard has Tommy John surgery, expected back in 2021

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New York Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard underwent successful Tommy John surgery on Thursday, a source tells ESPN.

The Mets announced Tuesday that Syndergaard would need the surgery. He is expected to return some time during the 2021 season.

Syndergaard, 27, who is one of the hardest-throwing starting pitchers in baseball history and has among the best arsenals of pitches in the game, was expected to anchor the Mets’ rotation alongside ace Jacob deGrom.

Syndergaard threw a career-high 197 ⅔ innings last season, and while his ERA was a career-worst 4.28, the combination of good health and stuff foretold good things. However he has had a tough time staying healthy.

Injuries wiped out most of Syndergaard’s 2017 season and shortened his 2018. This season he planned to join deGrom and Marcus Stroman atop the Mets’ rotation, with Steven Matz, Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha filling out the last spots.

Syndergaard, acquired by the Mets in 2012 when they traded Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey to Toronto, was an instant phenom. His fastball consistently hit 100 mph, he ripped off sliders as fast as 93 mph, and he struck out 166 batters in 150 innings as a 22-year-old rookie in 2015. His best year came in 2016, when he was an All-Star and posted a 2.60 ERA in 183 ⅔ innings.

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