Last week,. The team reportedly had a center-field camera fixed on the catcher, someone decoded the signs on a monitor in the hallway between the dugout and clubhouse, and banged a garbage can to relay incoming pitches to the hitter.
The latest wrinkle comes from Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman hears Astros players may have worn a buzzer device on their body to help relay signs. From Sherman:
In recent days I have had scouts and executives talk to me about a variety of methods they think have been or could be employed, such as a realistic-looking electronic bandage placed on a player's body that buzzes in real time to signal what is coming — one buzz for a fastball, for example — if the surveillance determines what type of pitching is coming. One person I spoke to has ties to the Astros and said he already had spoken to MLB's investigators.
Stealing signs is not explicitly against MLB rules and pretty much everyone within the industry is fine with signs being stolen the old-fashioned way. If the catcher isn't disguising his signs well enough and you can pick them up while on base or in the dugout, that's fair game. That is old-school gamesmanship.
Using electronics to steal signs is not only considered over the line, it is against the rules. MLB has rules stipulating how and when technology can be used, and fixing a camera on the catcher to steal signs is against them. So too is using some sort of personal buzzer that relays signs to the hitter. That is way over the line.
In 2017, MLB fined the Red Sox an undisclosed amount after they were found to have used Apple Watches during a sign-stealing scheme. Commissioner Rob Manfred said "all 30 Clubs have been notified that future violations of this type will be subject to more serious sanctions, including the possible loss of draft picks," when announcing Boston's discipline.
MLB is currently in the process of interviewing 2017 Astros personnel,, as the league investigates the sign-stealing allegations. As far as we know the investigation is limited to 2017, but, if it were to expand to include more recent years, the Astros would be facing severe penalties based on Manfred's statement.