Commissioner Rob Manfred provided an update on Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Red Sox alleged use of video equipment to steal opponents’ signs during the 2018 season, telling reporters (including Ken Davidoff of the New York Post) that he hoped to have a conclusion reached before Spring Training camps open next week. “I’d like to have this over. Investigations are funny. You think you know what the timeline is, but that’s a day-to-day prediction,” Manfred said.
The Red Sox already fired manager Alex Cora last month, a day after the league issued its report about the Astros’ 2017 electronic sign-stealing scandal and cited Cora (then Houston’s bench coach) as one of the primary architects of the now-infamous plan that involved Astros players banging trash cans and making other audible signals from the dugout to alert hitters about what pitches were coming. As per the original report from The Athletic’s Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal about Boston’s alleged sign-stealing strategies, “at least some players visited the video replay room during games to learn the sign sequence opponents were using,” though the Sox players then tried to simply relay their information after reaching base, rather than using auditory signals.
It remains to be seen what (if anything) the Red Sox investigation will reveal, and if any potential penalties issued against the organization will come close to the punishments levied to the Astros — a $5MM fine, losses of their first two picks from each of the next two drafts, and one-year suspensions to manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow (who were both fired by the club shortly after MLB’s report was released). No Red Sox players, however, will face any sanctions, as Manfred said the players were granted immunity from any punishment in order to get them to speak freely about what may or may not have been going on within the clubhouse.
One other wrinkle from the Astros and Red Sox situations is the likelihood of changes to how teams can access video footage during games. “I think you should assume that before the season starts, we will have new guidelines with respect to the use of video equipment,” Manfred said, adding that “I think we have too much video available in real time right now.”