Report: MLB to Expand Astros Sign-Stealing Probe, Severe Penalties Possible

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2019

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred speaks to reporters after a meeting of baseball team owners in New York, Thursday, June 20, 2019. The Tampa Bay Rays have received permission from Major League Baseball's executive council to explore a plan that could see the team split its home games between the Tampa Bay area and Montreal, reports said Thursday. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Major League Baseball has reportedly expanded its sign-stealing investigation beyond the 2017 Houston Astros as league officials also contacted the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Thursday that MLB is trying to unearth evidence teams "used technology to aid hitters." Based on the results of the wide-ranging probe, potential severe penalties could be "unlike anything seen in the sport's recent history," according to Passan.

Rumors about the Astros' high-tech efforts to steal signs aren't new.

Last October, Bleacher Report's Scott Miller reported opposing clubs warned each other about Houston's "devious technological behavior," though sources said the 'Stros weren't alone in their efforts.

"The Astros will do anything and go to any length to try to win," a source told Miller. "I don't fault them for that, because you can't tell me the Indians, the Yankees and the Red Sox aren't trying to figure out how they can steal signs, too."

Former Astros starting pitcher Mike Fiers brought the situation to the forefront this week when he told Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic that the club electronically stole signs during its championship season in 2017.

"That's not playing the game the right way," Fiers said. "They were advanced and willing to go above and beyond to win."

The Astros' system allegedly included an outfield camera pointed toward the catcher that relayed footage to a hallway near the dugout. Players and other team employees would then try to decode the signs and pass them along to hitters via loud noises.

Jimmy O'Brien compiled video of the alleged process, which happened in a matter of seconds (warning: NSFW language):

Jomboy @Jomboy_

Astros using cameras to steal signs, a breakdown https://t.co/rncm6qzXxw

Passan noted The Athletic's report "brought into question the methods used by people involved in at least the past three World Series." Boston defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games to capture the 2018 title.

The MLB department of investigations is in the process of creating a list of players, managers, coaches and other team personnel it wants to speak with, but it will need MLB Players Association approval to speak with members of the union.

No timetable has been provided for the probe and determination of any subsequent punishment.