Report: MLB Considering Isolating Replay Room After Astros, Red Sox Scandals

Houston Astros third baseman Abraham Toro tags Boston Red Sox's Michael Chavis who is out trying to steal third during a spring training baseball game, Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Fort Myers, Fla. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Major League Baseball reportedly was nearing a deal to overhaul replay room security measures after sign-stealing schemes were used by the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox.  

MLB and the players union were reportedly on the “two-yard line” before talks were put on hold when the coronavirus pandemic put the league on hiatus, according to Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated

Among the proposed changes, MLB is seeking to close off the replay room to all but a club’s review operator and an MLB security official who would detail all interactions the operator has with team officials. The use of replay rooms was a key component to the Astros and Red Sox schemes. 

On Wednesday, Commissioner Rob Manfred levied his punishment against the Red Sox for their use of replay in a sign-stealing scheme, stripping Boston of its second-round draft pick in 2020 and suspending team replay operator J.T. Watkins through the 2020 postseason. 

Additionally, former Red Sox manager Alex Cora has been suspended through the 2020 postseason—but only for his actions as a bench coach with the Astros in 2017, not for wrongdoing in Boston. Manfred’s report called the Red Sox cheating scandal “far more limited in scope and impact” than what was occurring in Houston. 

Yet even before Manfred reached his conclusions in the Boston case, the league was negotiating with the players union on changes that would curtail club access to replay rooms—which are generally located near home dugouts—across all teams. 

As Verducci noted, the changes would also allow MLB to doctor in-game video before clubs are able to review it: 

“MLB and the union were close to agreeing on a ban of in-game logging of plays by technology staffers, who typically operate in or near the clubhouse. The two sides also were discussing the blurring or blacking out of catchers’ signs on in-game video available to players, such as reviewing an at-bat.

It’s unclear where the union was pushing back as the talks were halted. 

However, while MLB remains on hiatus, there’s less urgency to reform replay room security.