MLB Letter Reveals Misusing Technology By Yankees In 2015-16 Seasons

Last updated April 28, 2022

A letter by Major League Baseball addressed to the New York Yankees that was obtained by ESPN on Tuesday explained an illegal use of technology during the 2015 and 2016 seasons by the team.

Earlier this month, the United States Second Court of Appeals dismissed the Yankees' attempt to keep the letter. The letter was written by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and addressed to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. SNY released the letter for the first time on Tuesday.

According to the letter, the Yankees exploited the video replay room to decipher signs throughout the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The letter also exposed that the team used the dugout phone to transmit decoded signs from the replay room to the bench on a number of occasions.

It was common practice for New York's runners on second base to tell the batter what kind of pitch was about to be thrown. The signs were deciphered using a replay room. Manfred's memo, however, said there was no evidence to support the Boston Red Sox's claim that the Yankees stole signs by employing cameras from the YES Network.

The letter from MLB also revealed that the Yankees were penalized $100,000 for misusing the dugout phone. The Yankees were punished by the league in September 2017, but it wasn't until today that the exact amount of the violation was made public.

After the memo was written, the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox were fined in January 2020 for misusing technology to steal signs at the end of the 2017 and 2018 seasons. The Astros' incident was even much larger in scope than that of the Yankees.

Speculations over MLB letter

Tuesday afternoon, the Yankees and MLB (through Drellich) made statements that distinguished breaches that occurred before and after MLB announced its crackdown on September 15, 2017.

“The New York Yankees were fined for improper use of the dugout phone because the Replay Review Regulations prohibited the use of the replay phone to transmit any information other than whether to challenge a play,” MLB said in a statement.

"At that time, use of the replay room to decode signs was not expressly prohibited by MLB rules as long as the information was not communicated electronically to the dugout."

For years, the Yankees fought to keep the letter under court-ordered secrecy, which raised suspicions and fueled conspiracy theories about what was in it to the point that some baseball authorities were mystified by the team's handling of the problem.

“[We fought] to prevent the incorrect equating of events that occurred before the establishment of the Commissioner’s sign-stealing rules with those that took place after,” the Yankees’ representative said following the team’s fight against the publication of the commissioner’s letter in part.

“What should be made vibrantly clear is this: the fine noted in Major League Baseball’s letter was imposed before MLB’s new regulations and standards were issued.”

As part of its investigation into the Astros, MLB found that the hitters were given the identity of upcoming pitches in real-time via a television monitor, which led to the dismissals of general manager Jeff Luhnow, manager A.J. Hinch and bench coach Alex Cora, as well as the resignation of former Astros player Carlos Beltran from his new position as the manager of the New York Mets.

Jake Williams
Jake Williams is a sports gambling expert. He's been writing in the sports betting and DFS industry for over a decade. He specializes in MLB and NBA, along with College Basketball and College Football.