Why MLB players aren’t being punished in the Astros, Red Sox sign-stealing investigation

In this Nov. 1, 2017 file photo, the Houston Astros celebrate their World Series championship in Los Angeles.
None of the players from the 2017 Houston Astros have been disciplined for their participation in the electronic sign-stealing scheme. –AP Photo/Alex Gallardo, File

The fallout from Major League Baseball’s investigation into electronic sign-stealing resulted in three managers and a general manager losing their jobs, but no players have been disciplined. In releasing his report last week, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said “discipline of players for this type of conduct is both difficult and impractical.’’

But there is another reason players have not been penalized: According to the Wall Street Journal, the league reached an agreement early in the process with the MLB Players Association that granted immunity in exchange for honest testimony.

The deal was struck in part because the league did not believe it would win any grievances with players who would appeal the decisions because the Astros’ front office never discussed the league’s warning to stop using electronic devices to steal signs.


The deal with the MLBPA allowed the league to interview 23 current and former Astros players during the two-month investigation, but it also means none of the players who actually committed the violations will be punished.

The Red Sox are still awaiting the league’s report on its investigation into the allegations during the 2018 season.

In 2017, after the Red Sox were fined an undisclosed amount for stealing signs with an electronic device, Manfred sent a memo across the league reiterating that using electronic equipment to steal signs was a violation of league rules and that future transgressions would be met with severe discipline. Another memo from chief baseball officer Joe Torre expanded on the rule in March 2018.

In his report, Manfred said that Astros GM Jeff Luhnow “did not forward the memoranda and did not confirm that the players and field staff were in compliance with MLB rules and the memoranda.’’