Bob Nightengale at USA Today has a big scoop: the field of finalists for MLB Commissioner has been narrowed down to three, and one of them is a pretty huge surprise. There are two of Bud Selig's top deputies, and, somewhat out of nowhere, the chairman and minority owner of the Red Sox.
The owners, according to the executive, will choose between Rob Manfred, MLB's chief operating officer; Tim Brosnan, MLB's executive vice president of business; and Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner.
Manfred is essentially Selig's No. 2, graduating from MLB's labor pointman to something resembling an acting commissioner as Selig's duties have transitioned toward the ceremonial. Brosnan is a businessman to the core, having spent more than a decade handling MLB's licensing, marketing, and broadcasting deals.
Werner is a wild card, who actually got his start in entertainment: He's the "Werner" in Carsey-Werner Productions, responsible for shows like The Cosby Show, A Different World, Roseanne, Grace Under Fire, Third Rock From the Sun, and That '70s Show. He purchased a controlling interest in the Padres in 1990, and was bought out four years later. Under his reign, the richest ownership group in the majors fielded one of the cheapest teams, gutting the roster in the Great Padres Fire Sale of 1993. After a class-action suit was filed, the team was forced to offer refunds to season-ticket holders.
Werner, along with John Henry and Larry Lucchino, went on to co-found Fenway Sports Group, which purchased the Boston Red Sox in 2002 and Premier League side Liverpool in 2010. He serves as chairman of both teams.
Werner is the only one of the three candidates without a legal background, which would be interesting considering one of the new commissioner's first major challenges will be contentious CBA talks in 2016. (The MLPBA head, Tony Clark, is also the first leader on that side who wasn't a lawyer first.)
We'll know who the next commissioner is soon. The owners will vote on Aug. 14.