NEW YORK (AP) -- Rob Manfred was promoted Monday to Major League Baseball's chief operating officer, which may make him a candidate to succeed Bud Selig as commissioner.
The sport's No. 2 post had been open for three years. Paul Beeston served in the role from 1997-02, then was replaced by Bob DuPuy, who left in October 2010.
Selig, who has headed baseball since September 1992, said last week he intends to retire in January 2015, though some owners remain skeptical.
The 55-year-old Manfred, a graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Law School, was a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and assisted on baseball's labor negotiations that led to the 1990 collective bargaining agreement and during the turmoil of the 1994-95 strike.
He joined MLB as executive vice president for labor relations and human resources in 1998, and headed talks with the players' union that produced agreements in 2002, 2006 and 2011 without a work stoppage. He also headed negotiations on all of baseball's drug agreements in the past 11 years.
Manfred was in charge in MLB's legal efforts during the Los Angeles Dodgers bankruptcy and sale in 2011-12 and was promoted to EVP of economics and league affairs in June last year as he took on an increasingly wider role.