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HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 11: Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros doubles in the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Minute Maid Park on April 11, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

MLBPA Hits Back At Commissioner Rob Manfred On Player Punishment Amid Sign Stealing Investigation

Commissioner Rob Manfred held a press conference Tuesday, his second in five days, to explain his reasoning for not punishing Houston Astros’ players. Manfred claimed the MLBPA could have reprimanded players and said, “they originally approached the players’ union with a list of players they’d grant immunity to, but that the union pushed back and demanded full immunity in exchange for cooperation,” according to CBS Sports.

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Executive Director of the MLBPA, Tony Clark released a statement Tuesday in response to Manfred’s claims:

“The day after The Athletic published its Nov. 12 article, Major League Baseball informed the Players Association it would be conducting an investigation, and that it would want to interview players as a part of that investigation. MLB said from the outset that it was not its intention to discipline players. This was not surprising because the applicable rules did not allow for player discipline, because even if they did players were never notified of the rules to begin with, and because in past cases involving electronic sign stealing MLB had stated that Club personnel were responsible for ensuring compliance with the rules.Against this backdrop, the Association on Nov. 13 sought and received confirmation from the league that the players interviewed and any other players would not be disciplined in connection with the allegations made in the article. We received that confirmation promptly on the evening of Nov. 13, and the player interviews began days later.Any suggestion that the Association failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s investigation, obstructed the investigation, or otherwise took positions which led to a stalemate in the investigation is completely untrue. We acted to protect the rights of our members, as is our obligation under the law.Over the last two weeks, the Association and MLB have had regular dialogue on potential rule changes affecting sign stealing, in-game technology and video, data access and usage, Club audits and disclosures, player education, and enforcement – including the potential for player discipline. Written proposals have been exchanged, and we have made it clear to MLB that no issue is off the table, including player discipline. This is a pivotal time for our game, and these are critically important issues. How the parties handle the next several weeks will significantly affect what our game looks like for the next several decades. The opportunity is now to forge a new path forward.”

In Manfred’s Sunday press conference, he discussed the decision to not strip the Astros’ 2017 World Series title.

“The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back seems like a futile act,” Manfred said in his press conference. “People will always know something was different about the 2017 season, and whether we made that decision right or wrong, we undertook a thorough investigation, and had the intestinal fortitude to share the results of the investigation, even when those results were not very pretty.”

Manfred confirmed Tuesday that the Astros did in fact use sign stealing during the 2017 postseason.

“The garbage can signaling went on in the postseason,” Manfred said. “There was conflicting evidence on that point. In an investigation you often have conflicting evidence. And it was my view the more credible evidence was that they continued to use the scheme in the postseason.”

The Redsox are currently under investigation for sign stealing in the 2018 postseason and more information will be reported when available.

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Written by Frank DeLorenzo

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