The electronic sign-stealing scandal that rocked MLB this offseason saw Houston Astros players escape punishment for their role in baseball’s biggest act of cheating in decades. Under a new MLB rule, that will change going forward.
MLB fined the Astros $5 million in January, the maximum allowed under league rules, docked the organization first- and second-round picks in 2020 and ’21, while suspending A.J. Hinch and Jeff Luhnow for a year. Later, commissioner Rob Manfred docked the Boston Red Sox a 2020 second-round pick and suspended team staff for their own sign-stealing scandal.
However, Astros and Red Sox players escaped without penalty for their role in the electronic sign-stealing operations.
MLB players can now be suspended for electronic sign-stealing
Following months of negotiations between MLB and the MLB Players Association, commissioner Rob Manfred will now have the ability to suspend players who steal signs electronically.
According to The Athletic’s Evan Drellich, MLB will now have the authority to suspend players without pay or service time if they are found to have participated in stealing signs electronically.
The scope of the league’s new rules go even further as baseball looks to prevent teams from electronically stealing signs. MLB has reportedly hired an outside security firm to monitor the entrance to video replay rooms. The league also plans to edit out signs from the video footage players look at during games.
When MLB launched its investigation into allegations of the Astros’ cheating, the league determined its best path to a complete report would be to interview players involved. As a result, Manfred gave players immunity if they fully cooperated with the league.
The league’s decision not to punish the players drew outrage from their peers, especially the Los Angeles Dodgers. In their first matchup against the Astros, Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly threw the ball near Alex Bregman’s head. As a result, MLB suspended Kelly for eight games and manager Dave Roberts for one game.
The cheating scandal will continue to hang over MLB for a while with players still angered by the Astros’ actions and the absence of discipline for the players. If it happens again, though, at least action will finally be taken.