Their calls may now be monitored for quality assurance.
The sign-stealing scandal between the Red Sox and Yankees didn’t exactly slip away and disappear. The part of the saga that drew the most attention was the primary accusation: that the Red Sox were using some sort of portable electronic device to relay signals.
MLB found that that the Red Sox indeed sent “electronic communications from their video replay room to an athletic trainer in the dugout,” per the league’s press release in September.
Yet, the Red Sox accused the Yankees of also stealing signs, by using YES Network cameras to help them. The league did not find the Yankees had cheated in this manner.
“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,” the commissioner’s statement read. “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.”
Now, MLB wants to monitor those dugout phones.
Teams have typically installed the phones at their ballpark. The league is instead looking to replace them with their own phones, sources with knowledge of the plan confirmed to NBC Sports Boston. The Yankees-Sox situation isn't the sole motivation behind the change, but a contributor.
Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, who reported the plan earlier this week:
“Baseball is also working to address this problem, installing new phones in every dugout, phones that will connect only to the replay room and bullpen. All communications over those phones will be recorded and monitored, with the goal of eliminating sign-stealing conversation between the dugout and replay room.”
A couple of uniformed folks who spoke to NBC Sports Boston about this subject recently expressed a sense that such a move was overkill.
More from Rosenthal: “Baseball even discussed banning players and coaches from leaving the dugout to go to the clubhouse or replay room but recognized that such a rule would be difficult to enforce. Still, officials believe that the process of sign stealing will become more burdensome if phone communication is eliminated. Players and coaches will need to leave the dugout and return to relay signs.”
There was chatter even during the playoffs that at least some teams were stealing signs, an act which in itself is not outlawed, but cannot be done by certain methods. As Lance McCullers Jr. of the world champion Astros recently wrote on Twitter (without reference to any specific period of play): "You can’t limit mound visits, especially from the catcher, when everyone is using adv tech to steal signs. You have to change them too often to try to keep things as 'even' as possible. And I’m not talking about signs when a man is on second."