We heard more details on proposed changes to the Japanese player posting system earlier this week, but it’s not a done deal yet. In fact, Rob Manfred, MLB’s chief operating officer, indicated today that an agreement is not close.
Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com has the details from Orlando, Florida:
“What I would tell you is that we made a proposal to the Japanese,” Manfred said at the end of the year’s final quarterly Owners Meetings. “When we made that proposal, we told them it was important that they give us a timely response. Unfortunately, they have not been able to do that.”
MLB waited several weeks for approval of its proposal by Japanese baseball officials, but sentiment among a growing number of Major League owners has turned to ending the posting system entirely.
“In today’s meeting there was discussion that will require us to go back to the Japanese and have some further conversation about the proposal we made to them,” Manfred said. “It sat out there for a long time. They couldn’t give us an answer and we’re going to have to go back to them and talk to them about where we are right now.”
According to David Waldstein of the New York Times, the snag isn’t from the Japanese side of things, but rather that small market MLB teams want the posting fee for players to count toward the luxury tax. This would be relevant to the Yankees and their goal to stay under $189 million in payroll next season, as they are expected to be one of the highest bidders on Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka when he’s posted this winter. However, as Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News points out, this would require reopening the collective bargaining agreement to change the rules. And that’s not going to happen.
It should be noted that both Waldstein and Feinsand expect that something will eventually be worked out and that Tanaka will be posted at some point this winter, but it will be interesting to see if the timing of the posting will have an impact on offseason plans. Putting all of your eggs in the Tanaka basket could be risky once significant free agent starting pitchers begin to come off the board.
When he’s not throwing baseballs, Twins pitcher Trevor May is an active gamer. He streams on Twitch, a very popular video game streaming site, fairly regularly and now he’s officially on an eSports team. Luminosity Gaming announced the organization added May last Friday. It appears he’ll be streaming and commentating on Overwatch, a multiplayer first-person shooter made by Blizzard Entertainment.
May is the only current athlete to be an active member of an eSports team. Former NBA player Rick Fox owns Echo Fox, an eSports team that sports players in games including League of Legends, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Street Fighter V, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Mortal Kombat X. Jazz forward Gordon Hayward is also a known advocate of eSports.
The NBA in particular has been very active on the eSports front. Kings co-owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov launched NRG eSports in November 2015. Shortly thereafter, Grizzlies co-owner Stephen Kaplan invested in the Immortals eSports team. Almost a year later, the 76ers acquired controlling stakes in Team Dignitas and Team Apex. The same month, the Wizards’ and Warriors’ owners launched a group called Axiomatic, which purchased a controlling stake in Team Liquid, a long-time Starcraft: Brood War website which has since branched out into other games. And also in September 2016, Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko bought team Renegades, moving them to a group house in Detroit. In December 2016, the Bucks submitted a deal to Riot Games in order to purchase Cloud9’s Challenger league spot for $2.5 million. The Rockets that month hired someone specifically for eSports development, focusing on strategy and investment. Last month, the Heat acquired a controlling stake in team Misfits.
Once an afterthought, eSports has grown considerably in recent years and now it should be considered a competitor to traditional sports. League of Legends, in particular, is quite popular, reaching nearly 15 million concurrent viewers at its peak in the most recent League of Legends World Championship. That championship featured a prize purse of $6.7 million with $2 million of it being split among winner SK Telecom T1’s members.
The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.
Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.