Athletics

Athletics

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred defended his punishments for the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal during their World Series-winning 2017 season, and his decision to grant players immunity for cooperating with the league's investigation. 

In an interview with ESPN's Karl Ravech that aired Sunday, Manfred explained why he didn't punish Astros players. 

"I understand people's desire to have the players pay a price for what went on here," Manfred said. "I think if you watch the players, watch their faces when they have to deal with this issue publicly, they have paid a price. To think they're skipping down the road into spring training, happy, that's just a mischaracterization of where we are.

"Having said that, the desire to have actual discipline imposed on them, I understand it and in a perfect world, it would have happened. We ended up where we ended up in pursuit of really, I think, the most important goal of getting the facts and getting them out there for people to know it."

Manfred suspended manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for a year without pay. Hours after their suspensions, Astros owner Jim Crane fired Hinch and Luhnow last month. The Astros also lost four MLB draft picks and were fined $5 million. 

While there has been an outcry for harsher punishments, Manfred previously has stated he has no plans of stripping the Astros of their World Series title. He also further explained in his interview with Ravech why there haven't been punishments handed down on the players. 

 

Manfred told Ravech that disciplining players likely would have resulted in grievances from the Major League Baseball Players Association. The commissioner cited Luhnow's failure to communicate to the Astros' players the contents of a 2017 memorandum outlining MLB's policy on the use of technology.

"Well, they just didn't do it. It's in my report. The memorandum went to the general manager, and then nothing was done from the GM down," Manfred said. "So we knew if we had disciplined the players in all likelihood we were going to have grievances and grievances that we were going to lose on the basis that we never properly informed them of the rules. Given those two things, No. 1, I knew where, or I'm certain where the responsibilities should lay in the first instance and given the fact we didn't think we could make discipline stick with the players, we made the decision we made.

"Having said that, I understand the reaction. The players, some of them in a more articulate way than others, have said, admitted they did the wrong thing. And I understand that people want to see them punished for that, and in a perfect world, they would have been punished."

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Manfred says he understands all the reactions that have come against himself and the Astros alike. Though he won't be punishing players or taking the Astros' title away, Manfred did insist new rules are coming for the 2020 season regarding the usage of technology. 

"No question we'll have a new policy before the 2020 season," Manfred said. "I don't deny video can help you perform if you have access to it during the game, but a golfer can't come off the sixth and take a look at his swing. ... We're going to have to live with less access to live video in and around the dugout and clubhouse."

Again, this story isn't over. Manfred will address media later Sunday at 1:30 p.m. PT.