Selig meets with GMs at Owners' Meetings

Selig meets with GMs at Owners' Meetings

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- As promised, Commissioner Bud Selig met with 28 of the 30 general managers on Wednesday for the first two hours of a meeting that went well into the late afternoon.

Selig called the meeting "historic" and "constructive," noting that it was the first time it had happened at this time of year in Major League Baseball history. Selig, of course, has previously addressed the GMs at their annual November meetings.

Selig said that this will be the first of several meetings to be held throughout the year that will include the Commissioner and the GMs. Only Billy Beane of the A's and Ned Colletti of the Dodgers were not in attendance, Selig said, noting that both had family commitments.

"What was really interesting was the sharing of ideas from GMs whose clubs represented different areas of the country," Selig said. "That I found fascinating. I've always told the owners that the more communication that you have and the more they hear each other, the better chance we have to solve problems without any trauma. That's worked very well for me over the last 18 years.

"They were tremendous. They were really engaged. Everyone had done their homework."

The GMs have also been invited to sit in on Thursday morning's first joint ownership meeting of the year. The owners usually have one each quarter.

Though Selig and GMs who were approached declined to publicly comment on specifics of the meeting, one person who was in the room said that a great portion of the discussion with the Commissioner dwelled exclusively on the First-Year Player Draft and how changes could be made for it to be more effective.

Selig has recently said that he's in favor of a salary slotting system for the top picks in the Draft and that he would like to have it expanded on a world-wide basis. As of now, the June Draft includes players only from the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

No matter what this group might eventually agree upon, those two matters must be collectively bargained with the Players Association. The current Basic Agreement expires on Dec. 11, 2011, and negotiations are expected to begin in earnest early next year.

Regardless of topic, baseball folk universally agreed that the meeting was productive.

"I think it really worked," said Yankees GM Brian Cashman. "There's not many times when you can sit down with the Commissioner. We just talked about a number of topics. It's an honor every time the Commissioner has one-on-ones with you. He's a very busy man and his time is important. I appreciate him taking the time out here and asking our opinions about the game."

"I think this is great," said Ken Kendrick, the managing general partner of the D-backs. "The GMs are baseball. The more they know about the stuff we know about the better. A lot of those things are really in their world."

"The forum for us was tremendous," said Indians GM Mark Shapiro. "It was great for us to communicate on bigger picture issues and have an exchange of ideas. Having him consult with us and seek our opinions was uplifting."

In other issues discussed throughout the day, Rangers owner Tom Hicks and his son, Tom Jr., met with MLB president and chief operating officer Bob DuPuy. The team is for sale and a 30-day exclusive window to sell the team to a group headed by Chuck Greenberg and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, currently the club's president, expires on Friday.

Hicks declined to comment on the status of the sale until the 30-day window closes, although he did maintain that his family is going to remain as big investors.

"You're not getting rid of us," the elder Hicks said.

A committee studying the future of the Oakland A's is apparently not ready yet to make a recommendation about where the team should relocate. A deal is being studied in Fremont, Calif., just down the East Bay from Oakland. Wolff, who abruptly ended extended negotiations to move the team to Fremont, wants to move the team to San Jose.

The Giants claim San Jose as part of their territory. San Jose is the 10th largest city in the country and third population-wise in California behind Los Angeles and San Diego.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.