The Commissioner said that all 30 Major League clubs have been notified that future violations of this type will be subject to more serious sanctions, including the possible loss of Draft picks. But he said that three relevant points were considered in assessing the significance of this particular violation.
“First, the violation in question occurred without the knowledge of ownership or front-office personnel,” Manfred said. “Second, when the Red Sox learned of the Yankees’ complaint, they immediately halted the conduct in question and then cooperated completely in my investigation. I have received absolute assurances from the Red Sox that there will be no future violations of this type.
“Third, our investigation revealed that Clubs have employed various strategies to decode signs that do not violate our rules. The Red Sox’s strategy violated our rules because of the use of an electronic device.”
“Obviously this whole situation has generated a lot of attention,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “The Commissioner has handed down his ruling on it. And I think more than anything … the fact that the investigation’s been closed, the ruling’s been made, we’re looking forward to moving beyond. And [we] remain focused as we’ve been day to day and looking to put a win on the field every night.”
“It’s over. We move forward,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “That’s all I can tell you. It’s over. It is what it is.”
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman filed a complaint with the Commissioner’s Office that included video the Yanks shot during their series against the Red Sox last month, claiming that Boston had used a smartwatch to relay electronic communications from its video replay room to an athletic trainer in the dugout.
While attempting to decode signs being used by an opposing catcher is not a violation of any rule or regulation, Major League Baseball does restrict the use of electronic equipment during games, stating that no such equipment “may be used for the purpose of stealing signs or conveying information designed to give a Club an advantage.”
The league’s department of investigations handled the matter, led by Brian Seeley, a former Assistant United States Attorney. Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said the extent of the punishment was expected based on his conversations with investigators.
“We’d pretty much been alerted that this was the scenario,” Dombrowski said. “But until it’s officially decided, which was today, do you really know exactly what’s going to take place? Pretty much we had thought this would be the case, in recent times.”
Dombrowski added that there would be no internal fines levied against Red Sox personnel.
“The topic’s been discussed internally and addressed,” Dombrowski said.
Major League Baseball also investigated an allegation by the Red Sox that the Yankees had made improper use of the YES Network’s cameras in an effort to decipher Boston’s signs. The Yanks fully cooperated with the investigation, and Manfred said that MLB found “insufficient evidence” to support the allegation.
“In the course of our investigation, however, we learned that during an earlier championship season [prior to 2017] the Yankees had violated a rule governing the use of the dugout phone,” Manfred said. “No club complained about the conduct in question at the time and, without prompting from another club or my Office, the Yankees halted the conduct in question.
“Moreover, the substance of the communications that took place on the dugout phone was not a violation of any rule or regulation in and of itself. Rather, the violation occurred because the dugout phone technically cannot be used for such a communication.”
Girardi declined to comment when asked about the nature of the dugout phone violation, repeating, “It is what it is. It’s over.”
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.