As Jeff Passan of ESPN wrote in February, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have been discussing a litany of rule changes, including a pitch clock and a universal designated hitter.
However, swift regulations on another topic have been put in place to restrict sign stealing, per Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated on Tuesday:
"Major League Baseball is cracking down on high-tech sign stealing. It is banning all non-broadcast outfield cameras from foul pole to foul pole as well as tightening restrictions on in-house video, several sources familiar with the new rules told SI. Teams violating the protocols face penalties that include the loss of draft picks and international spending money."
According to Verducci, "there is expectation" a final document outlining the restrictions and bans will be finished within two weeks and ready for the beginning of the 2019 season.
Sign-stealing isn't anything new—Bryan Soderholm-Difatte of the Society for American Baseball Research outlined a sign-stealing scheme pulled off by the 1951 New York Giants during their National League-pennant winning season, for example.
But the spotlight has recently shined brightly on sign-stealing, especially over the past two seasons. Per Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post, the Astros were accused (and eventually cleared) of the act during the 2018 American League Championship Series.
In 2017, commissioner Rob Manfred fined the Red Sox "an undisclosed amount" after an MLB investigation revealed that the practice occurred during the regular season versus the New York Yankees.
Per Verducci, the new rules and regulations to curtail the practice will be extensive and include banning in-house cameras in between the foul poles and mandating that every general manager (or president of baseball operations) and manager "must sign a document professing that his club is in compliance with the anti-sign stealing rules and that he knew of no 'pre-meditated plan to steal signs'."
The MLB season begins on March 20 when the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics face off in Tokyo.