MLB Commish Manfred Explains Why Astros Players Weren't Punished for Cheating

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2020

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 10: Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks during the 2019 Major League Baseball Winter Meetings on December 10, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

One criticism of Major League Baseball's punishment for the Houston Astros revolved around none of the players being disciplined by Commissioner Rob Manfred for their roles in the cheating scandal.

In an interview with ESPN's Karl Ravech, Manfred explained that player discipline likely would have resulted in a grievance filing from the MLB Players Association because former Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow didn't relay a 2017 memo outlining the league's updated policy on technology use during games.

MLB's official nine-page report on the Astros investigation said the cheating scheme was largely player-driven—with former bench coach Alex Cora also involved in setting it up—and that it took place throughout the 2017 season and part of the 2018 season.

Cora lost his job as manager of the Boston Red Sox after results of the investigation were released. Carlos Beltran, who played for the Astros in 2017, agreed to a mutual parting of ways as manager of the New York Mets two months after he was hired in November.

Per Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal, MLB granted Astros players immunity to get honest testimony during the investigation.

During the 2017 season, the Red Sox and New York Yankees filed separate complaints to MLB that alleged the other team was illegally using electronic equipment and television feeds to steal their signs.

Manfred disciplined the Red Sox and Yankees by fining them undisclosed amounts of money. His statement also noted that MLB regulations "prohibit the use of electronic equipment during games and state that no such equipment 'may be used for the purpose of stealing signs or conveying information designed to give a club an advantage.'"

The Astros organization received the maximum financial penalty allowed under MLB rules ($5 million) and forfeited their first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021. Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were suspended one year by MLB before Astros owner Jim Crane fired both men.

Houston reported to spring training last week and will play its first game Feb. 22 against the Washington Nationals.