ARLINGTON -- Commissioner Rob Manfred said on Tuesday that Major League Baseball is conducting a thorough investigation into allegations that the Astros utilized electronic sign stealing to gain a competitive advantage, particularly during the 2017 season.
“Any allegations that relate to a rule violation that could affect the outcome of a game or games is the most serious matter,” Manfred said. “It relates to the integrity of the sport. In terms of where we are, we have a very active, what is going to be a really, really thorough investigation. Beyond that, I can’t tell you how close we are.”
The allegations were made public in an article published last week for The Athletic (subscription required). The article said the Astros stole signs at home games during the regular season and possibly the postseason via a camera set up in the outfield en route to winning the 2017 World Series. While there have been suggestions that other teams also may be guilty of similar sign stealing, Manfred said the current MLB investigation is directed toward the Astros.
“Right now, we are focused on the information we have with respect to the Astros,” Manfred said. “I am not going to speculate on whether other people are going to be involved. We will deal with that if it happens. I’m not speculating on that. I have no reason to believe it extends beyond the Astros at this point in time.”
A club found guilty of any rule violations could be facing a variety of punishments, including fines, the loss of amateur Draft picks and/or a reduction in international slot bonus money.
“I am not going to speculate on what the appropriate discipline is,” Manfred said. “That depends on how the facts are established at the end of the investigation. The general warning I issued to the clubs I stand by. It certainly could be all those things. My authority under the Major League constitution would be broader than those things.”
Manfred said there is no timeline to complete the investigation, but he allowed that he would prefer for it to be completed by Opening Day.
“It’s really important that we be as thorough as possible,” Manfred said. “Make sure we know everything that went on to the extent that is possible. I would certainly hope we are done before we start playing baseball.”