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Report: Owners back off demand for international draft

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Ken Rosenthal reports a development from the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations: the owners, he says, have backed off their demand for an international draft as a requirement for a new CBA. Rosenthal says that they did so out of a “desire to move talks forward.”

As we’ve discussed on several occasions, the idea of an international draft is a bad one. At least if you give a fig about the rights of amateur players and don’t believe that it’s more important for billionaire club owners to save a little money than it is for 16-year-olds from poor countries to earn what they are worth on a free and open market. The Players Union — whose membership does not include international amateur free agents — was assumed to be relatively indifferent to the idea or, at most, was thought to be prepared to use the international draft as a bargaining chip to obtain something greater for itself. Their opposition to the idea, however, proved to be surprisingly strong. Indeed, several high profile major leaguers showed up at bargaining sessions yesterday to personally voice their disapproval of the idea.

Rosenthal says that despite the concession by the owners, the CBA talks have not exactly barreled forward. He notes, however, that the final item which remains is agreement on luxury tax levels and that such matters are usually the final ones agreed to in CBA talks.

The current CBA expires on Thursday. While some have suggested that the owners could lock the players out if an agreement is not reached before its expiration, that scenario seems highly unlikely. After all, the owners’ resolve to do such a thing was reported to be weaker than it was to impose an international draft and we see how quickly that demand was dropped. That aside, the expiration of the CBA has rarely, in and of itself, signaled a work stoppage. Indeed, enitre seasons have been played without a CBA in place and have been so under far more acrimonious relations between players and owners than which currently exists.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.