Thursday November 20th, 2014

On Thursday, Major League Baseball team owners approved a five-year contract for incoming commissioner Rob Manfred, The Associated Press reports.

Manfred will replace Bud Selig as commissioner on Jan. 25 after Selig retires following more than 20 seasons in charge. He was elected as Selig's replacement in August when he received the 23 required votes.

The contract will keep him in place through the next round of labor negotiations in 2016.

• VERDUCCI: Exclusive: Q&A with new commissioner Rob Manfred

Manfred told Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci that he expects the 2016 negotiations will be difficult.

"I think the ‘16 negotiations will be different and challenging because of the change in personnel -- really, on both sides. And obviously I’m going to be deeply involved. Dan Halem [MLB's executive VP of labor relations] is going to have an expanded, full and significant role in the process. And obviously on the MLBPA side, I’ve known [executive director] Tony [Clark] a very long time and worked with him. But for both Tony and me it’s going to be a huge change not having [recently deceased union chief] Michael [Weiner] there. That will make it different this time."

Pace of play is another area Manfred said he wants to improve.

"Pace of game is not a new issue for us. Commissioner Selig has been on this issue for years. All of the [commissioner] candidates talked about pace of game. I think it is going to be a big area of emphasis in order to keep baseball competitive in the entertainment market. I think there are a number of facets to it. There is the pace of what goes on on the field, there’s the absolute time, the length of the game, there’s the amount of action in the game and there’s also what do we do in the ballpark and in our broadcast to fill in the parts of the game that some people find to be a little slower. So I think it’s a multi-faceted issue that’s going to stay on the front burner."

• Red Sox reportedly make contract offers to Lester, Sandoval

- Paul Palladino

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