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New York Yankees were fined $100K for borderline sign-stealing in 2015 and 2016

Jason Burgos
new york yankees
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

While the New York Yankees were certainly victims of the Houston Astros sign-stealing antics a few years back, they weren’t innocent of their own set of pitch-watching shenanigans in the recent past.

On Tuesday, SNY revealed the details of what has been dubbed the “Yankee letter.” The document was an official correspondence from MLB to the team in 2017 regarding a violation, and that the franchise litigated for years to keep unsealed. Unfortunately for them, the cat is now out of the bag.

In the letter obtained by the outlet, it is revealed that the team was fined $100,000 by the league for “improper use” of the team’s dugout phone during games in the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The Yankees originally complained to MLB about sign-stealing by the Boston Red Sox. And it seems that during the league’s investigation into the claims, MLB discovered that the Yankees had a scheme of their own, as detailed in the now-infamous letter.

New York Yankees were schemers during 2015 and ’16 seasons

new york yankees
Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

“The Yankees used a similar scheme to that of the Red Sox to decode opposing Clubs’ signs and relay them to the batter when a runner was on second base,” the letter states. “[Redacted] — who initially noticed that the Red Sox were using a smartwatch to pass information to their players — admitted to the Department of Investigations that during the 2015 season and the first half of the 2016 season, [Redacted], provided information about opposing Club’s signs to players and members of the coaching staff in the replay room at Yankee Stadium, who then physically relayed the information to the Yankees’ dugout.

“[Redacted] also admitted that during that same time period, in certain stadiums on the road where the video room was not proximate to the dugout, used the phone line in the replay room to orally provide real-time information about opposing Club’s signs to Yankee coaches on the bench.”

What the Yankees were doing was viewed as a violation of the MLB Replay Review Regulations. However, the letter also clears the team of allegations of using YES Network cameras to read signs, and of any sign-stealing past a Sept. 15, 2017, cut-off when the league enacted new and stricter sign-stealing guidelines.

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In January of 2020, the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox were penalized by the league for violations of the new rules brought about in 2017.

In a statement on Tuesday, the New York Yankees explained that they fought to keep the letter unsealed to “prevent the incorrect equating of events that occurred” to be tied to violations by other teams after Sept. 2017.

Former manager Joe Giradi led the coaching staff for the Yankees during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Current manager Aaron Boone took over before the 2018 season.