July 6, 2022



New York Yankees used replay room to steal signs in 2015-2016, MLB letter confirms

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The Yankees Letter from Major League Baseball reveals that the Yankees were using the video replay room and phone to steal opponents’ signals and relay them to the dugout in real time.

The letter from Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, first published by the Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome and SNY’s Andy Martino, is dated Sept. 14, 2017 and informs the Yankees that MLB knows the team—during the 2015 and 2016 seasons—was using the replay room to decode opponents’ signs and physically relay that information to the dugout. The letter also says that MLB knows the team used the same system during road games, but in stadiums where the video room was further away from the dugout, they would use the phone in the replay room to provide real-time information on the signals to Yankees coaches in the dugout.

For these offenses, MLB fined the Yankees $100,000.

On Sept. 15, 2017—a day after sending the letter to the Yankees—Manfred publicly disciplined the Red Sox for using the video replay room in a similar manner and communicating the signals in real time with an Apple Watch. Manfred also warned every team against similar behavior in the future, threatening more serious punishment going forward.

The letter had been sealed, but daily fantasy players filed a lawsuit against baseball that, in part, contended that Manfred’s public statement on Sept. 15 hid the full nature about how much the Yankees were cheating, which would be detailed in the sealed letter to Cashman. The Yankees fought to keep the letter sealed, but courts ruled that it must be made public.

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In a statement provided after the release of the letter, the Yankees pointed out the infractions contained in the letter occurred before Manfred’s warning to teams about using the replay room to steal signs. Of course, the letter was sent to the Yankees a day before Manfred’s warning.

“The Yankees vigorously fought the production of this letter, not only for the legal principle involved but to prevent the incorrect equating of events that occurred before the establishment of the Commissioner’s sign-stealing rules with those that took place after. What should be made vibrantly clear is this: The fine noted in Major League Baseball’s letter was imposed before MLB’s new regulations and standards were issued,” the Yankees statement reads.

“Since Major League Baseball clarified its regulations regarding the use of video room equipment on September 15, 2017, the Yankees have had no infractions or violations.”

Two years after Manfred’s public warning about cheating, it was found that the Astros and Red Sox had ignored the commissioner and continued to use the replay room to decode signals late in the 2017 season and into 2018. The Astros took it a step further by banging on a trash can to alert hitters as to what pitch was coming. 

The Astros won their first World Series in 2017. The Red Sox won it all the next year when they were managed by Alex Cora, who had come over from the Astros before the season. The Athletic revealed that the Red Sox still were using the video replay room to decode signs during the 2018 season.

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Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were handed one-year suspensions from baseball in January 2020 and the Astros were fined $5 million and stripped of first- and second-round draft picks for two years. Astros owner Jim Crane subsequently fired Hinch and Luhnow.

The Red Sox were stripped of a second-round draft pick and replay operator J.T. Watkins was banned from working in the replay room. Cora also was suspended for the 2020 season, but the Red Sox brought him back once the suspension was completed.

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