Sources: Rob Manfred letter to Yankees did not allege sign stealing

Andy Martino

Andy Martino, | Twitter |

A letter sent by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to the Yankees in 2017 does not allege that the Yankees participated in sign-stealing, because the league concluded that the team did not steal signs, sources with direct knowledge of the investigation told SNY.

On Friday, Judge Jed Rakoff ordered the letter unsealed against the Yankees' wishes. The Yankees were a third party in a lawsuit brought by DraftKings players against MLB, the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox. The plaintiffs contended that the defendants defrauded them in various sign-stealing scandals.

Rakoff dismissed the suit in April, but on Friday ordered the release of a minimally redacted version of Manfred's letter addressed to Yankees GM Brian Cashman.

On Sept. 15, 2017, MLB issued a news release announcing discipline for the Red Sox for using an Apple Watch to steal signs, and for the Yankees for a violation of the replay phone in the dugout. SNY reported in January that the violation came when then-pitching coach Larry Rothschild phoned the video replay room in 2015 or 2016 to ask if a particular pitch had been a ball or a strike.

As first reported by The Athletic, Rakoff wrote that the DraftKings plaintiffs alleged that the news release "falsely suggested that the investigation found that the Yankees had only engaged in a minor technical infraction, whereas, according to plaintiffs, the investigation had in fact found that the Yankees engaged in a more serious, sign-stealing scheme."

That allegation by the plaintiffs is not accurate. MLB's Department of Investigations found no evidence that New York cheated in 2017, according to people with direct knowledge of the investigation.

The Yankees contend that because their employees took part in a confidential process during MLB's investigation, the letter should remain confidential. The proceedings were not public, the team contends, and should not become public three years after the fact. Letters from the commissioner to the Astros and Red Sox have not been made public.

"MLB required the Yankees to keep the letter confidential and the Yankees did," Jonathan Schiller, an attorney representing the Yankees, said in a statement to SNY.  "MLB designated the letter as Highly Confidential under the Court's protective order in the litigation, consistent with that confidentiality." 

"The Yankees are not a party to the case," Schiller said in the statement. "There is no basis for the confidential Yankees letter to be disclosed or reported on in a case that was dismissed with prejudice on grounds unrelated to this letter or this press release."

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