Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Players Association (MLBPA) have agreed that players who steal signs electronically can be suspended without pay or service time, according to The Athletic's Evan Drellich.
Here's more from the report, which comes in the months after no players were punished in electronic sign-stealing schemes carried out by the Astros and Red Sox in recent years:
Now everyone faces potential suspensions, and the rules continue to put the emphasis on the manager and general manager: "It is the responsibility of the Club's top baseball operations official and field manager to ensure that all players, baseball operations staff and field staff understand the requirements."
There is no preset length of punishment for players who violate the rules. Precedents will develop over time, but this offseason's happenings are not considered automatic baselines — not for players, at least.
Both Astros and Red Sox players involved in the sign-stealing schemes were granted immunity in exchange for honest information when MLB investigated the clubs earlier this year. Although MLB's report found that the Astros' sign-stealing operation was "player-driven," Manfred defended the punishment and said he would have liked to punish the players "in a perfect world."
"I understand when people say the players should've been punished," Manfred said in February. "I understand why they feel that way ... If I was in a world where I could've found all the facts without granting immunity, I would've done that. If you look at the face of the Houston players as they've been out there publicly addressing the situation, they've been hurt by this."
As far as the punishment for the Red Sox, a repeat sign-stealing offender, their punishment was more lenient than Houston's. At the time, our Mike Axisa brought up a good point:
The punishment is not nearly enough of a deterrent. Steal signs and you might win a World Series, and the worst-case scenario is what, you get caught, lose a draft pick(s), and have to find a new manager? That's not stopping anyone.
Well now, it appears that's not going to be the case any longer.
According to The Athletic, MLB expanded its rules on the use of electronics and video as it pertains to in-game sign-stealing. Sign-stealing is not against the rules, but improper usage of electronic equipment is, and now any future violation can be deemed severe enough for further punishment, thanks to these new rules. MLB also hired an outside security firm to guard the video replay room entrance of clubs, The Athletic adds.
By the end of this week, the report says, every TV in MLB team clubhouses will only show an angle of the baseball field that doesn't display signs. The league is even planning to edit out pitchers' signs from the footage players view during the game in the next year.
The sign-stealing scandals and subsequent lack of player punishment came back to the forefront this week when Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly received a suspension for eight games for throwing at Astros batters during Tuesday's game in Houston. Kelly wasn't on the 2017 Dodgers team, but he was on the Red Sox team that lost to the Astros in the 2017 ALDS (Kelly was also on the 2018 World Series-winning Red Sox team that was also punished). His suspension equates to about a 22-game suspension in a normal, full-length, 162-season. Kelly has elected to appeal.