Report: MLB Granted Players Immunity in Astros Scandal over Grievance Concerns

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2020

HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 05: Manager AJ Hinch #14 talks with Jeff Luhnow, General Manager of the Houston Astros, prior to game two of the American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Minute Maid Park on October 05, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Houston Astros' front office never passed on to players an official memo from MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred regarding sign-stealing, according to the Wall Street Journal's Jared Diamond

Diamond reported that was one reason MLB granted immunity to players who were forthright during the league's investigation into the team. The Major League Baseball Players Association would have had compelling grounds to appeal any punishments levied against Astros players:

Manfred issued a statement in September 2017 admonishing the Boston Red Sox for using Apple Watches to steal signs from the New York Yankees. Along with that public statement, he sent a private memo to all 30 teams reiterating the league's stance.

Manfred referenced the memo in his nine-page statement detailing how Houston had set up a replay room in which team personnel attempted to decode the signs from opposing teams.

"Thus, all Clubs were put on notice as of September 15, 2017, that any use of electronic equipment to steal signs would be dealt with more severely by my office," he wrote.

Despite the directive, the Astros continued to use their replay room for the remainder of the 2017 season and playoffs.

General manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch are the only people who have received punishments from MLB as a result of the scandal. Manfred suspended them for one year, and both men were subsequently fired by the team.

The Boston Red Sox dismissed Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran—the only player named in the commissioner's report—stepped down as the New York Mets' manager for their roles in the affair.

The Red Sox remain under investigation after The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich reported they created a sign-stealing scheme under Cora's watch in 2018.

Although Astros players have avoided any official consequences, team owner Jim Crane told reporters Tuesday they will issue an apology during spring training.

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