TAMPA, Fla. – Major League Baseball has proposed banning player access to video during games, according to New York Yankees pitcher Zack Britton, but the union wants to allow it with protections that would prevent catchers' signs from being visible.
Players' association head Tony Clark met with the Yankees for three hours Wednesday and discussed negotiations for new video rules in the wake of the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal.
“Right now, MLB's proposal would be like a blackout. There would be no access," Britton said. "That's a pretty extreme stance because of one team, that everyone else is punished. So, hopefully, we can find some common ground, but definitely before opening day. Guys would like to understand what we're going to be allowed to use and what we're not going to be allowed to use before opening day.”
Houston violated rules by using a camera in the outfield to steal catchers' signs during its run to the 2017 World Series title and again in 2018. The team was fined $5 million, manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for one season and the team was stripped of draft picks. Hinch and Luhnow were fired by the team, but no players were disciplined.
MLB also is investigating whether Boston broke rules.
Under the union's proposal, hitters would still be allowed to review video of their at-bats during games and pitchers would be allowed to look over their mound performance.
“The view that the players have is one that is concerned about where the game is and where it's going. So everything that we've slid across the table in regards to proposals on technology has been a reflection of that,” Clark said. “And that we've slid across includes access to technology, certain technology during the course of the game. There's systems that allow for access to your at-bats, and or your time on the mound. Having access to those videos even with certain criteria in place to protect the integrity of those videos is what has been in the proposals.”
Clark said there are a number of ways to implement it, including in-house monitoring. The clips would not show catcher's signs.
“The video person would be entrusted with cutting those clips, and you would look to have a standard of oversight thereafter," Clark said. "The conversions we've had included that, as well as the individual clips sent to a central place that allows for review, as well."
Clark said the union is open to setting rules for player discipline for future technology rules violations. Players will not be punished for violations in the Boston and Houston investigations, baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has said.
“We'd be willing to have that conversion, and that's what happening as we speak,” Clark said.
Some players were angry Astros players were not penalized.
“The stance of the guys pretty much in here is more frustration with MLB and the commissioner's office on the handling that,” Britton said. "The frustration lies with some of the issues with the teams filing complaints three or four years ago and nothing being done. At the same time as a team, we're more focused now on moving forward and try and win a World Series this year, which I think is the right mindset to have."
The union and MLB also have discussing security issues involving Houston players and their families.
“All of those things are things that we address routinely,” Clark said. “As of a result of where we are now, rarely do we address them or look to address them at spring training. More often it's the regular season, but that's what we're doing.”