Before deciding on any potential penalties, baseball would need to determine if the Astros violated major league rules and whether the on-field personnel who stole signs acted with the knowledge and approval of the front office or operated on their own.
Earlier this week, a bombshell report detailed the system the Astros . The team had a center field camera fixed on the catcher, someone decoded the signs on a monitor in the hallway between the dugout and clubhouse, and banged a garbage can to relay incoming pitches to the hitter.
MLB teams are paranoid about sign-stealing these days. The Nationals devised five entirely new sets of signs for each pitcher on the roster prior to the 2019 World Series because they were so concerned about the Astros stealing signs, according to the Washington Post‘s Barry Svrluga. Many teams will use multiple signs even with no runners on base.
At the time of the Red Sox fine, commissioner Rob Manfred said “future violations of this type will be subject to more serious sanctions, including the possible loss of draft picks,” in a statement. The Astros, depending on the breadth and scope of their alleged sign-stealing, could receive heavy discipline.
Here are more details on the investigation, via Rosenthal:
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports MLB also plans to interview Red Sox bullpen coach Craig Bjornson, who held the same role with the 2017 Astros, as well as former Astros assistant GM Brandon Taubman. . Several 2019 Astros will be interviewed as well.
Hinch is, of course, currently the manager of the Astros, as he was back in 2017, when the alleged sign-stealing took place. Cora was Hinch’s bench coach that year and Beltran was on the roster in his final season as a player.
MLB has launched an investigation into the sign-stealing allegations — former Astros righty Mike Fiers went on the record describing the system — and, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, three major-league managers are “virtually certain” to be interviewed during the investigation: Carlos Beltran of the Mets, Alex Cora of the Red Sox and A.J. Hinch of the Astros.
Cora spent one year, that 2017 season, as Hinch’s bench coach before being hired by the Red Sox in 2018. Beltran retired following the 2017 season. He spent time with his family in 2018, spent 2019 as a special adviser with the Yankees, and was hired by the Mets to be their manager a few weeks ago.
Stealing signs is not explicitly against MLB’s rules. Using electronics improperly is though, and the camera/monitor system the Astros are said to have used in 2017 would be against the rules. , the year before Cora was hired.
The league’s Department of Investigation (DOI) will speak with current and former Astros employees, including players, sources said. To interview players, MLB first must notify the players’ union. Union officials routinely sit in on such interviews, acting as representatives for the players. The league has already begun reaching out to people connected to the 2017 Astros, sources said.