Major League Baseball's investigation into illegal sign stealing is expected to grow beyond the 2017 Astros and involve other teams, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.
Earlier this week, former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers told The Athletic that the club electronically stole signs during home games in 2017 with the help of an outfield camera. He said the camera fed video to a monitor near Houston's dugout where someone would bang on a trash can to signal an off-speed pitch to the batter. Since the report's publication, MLB has started looking into the allegations and "[questioned] the methods used by people involved in at least the last three World Series," sources told Passan.
On Wednesday, MLB reportedly contacted people from the Red Sox and Astros and will examine if Houston also stole signs electronically in 2019. Passan reports the league is considering handing out "long suspensions" to interviewees who are caught lying.
At least three managers–the Red Sox' Alex Cora, the Astros' A.J. Hinch and newly-hired Mets skipper Carlos Beltrán–are expected to be interviewed in the investigation.
Cora served as Houston's bench coach in 2017. Beltrán was the Astros' designated hitter and outfielder. The Athletic reported on Wednesday that they were not the only members of the team who participated in the sign stealing.
Cora and Hinch declined to comment while Beltrán told The Athletic that the team did nothing wrong.
"We took a lot of pride studying pitchers in the computer—that is the only technology that I use and I understand," Beltrán said. "It was fun seeing guys get to the ballpark to look for little details."
MLB reportedly intends to interview former Astros bullpen coach Craig Bjornson, who followed Cora to the Red Sox in 2018, the same year the team won the World Series. Sources told Passan that the league also plans to interview former Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman, who has recently obtained a lawyer. Houston fired Taubman in October after he made insensitive comments to three female reporters about closer Roberto Osuna.
According to Passan, MLB's Department of Investigations is putting together a list of potential interviewees, which includes managers, coaches, players and team personnel. Any discussions with players would have to be approved by the MLB Players Association.
Commissioner Rob Manfred would determine the punishment for any illegal activity found and "the severity could be unlike anything seen in the sport's recent history," sources told Passan.
Sign stealing has a long history in baseball, but the league prohibits clubs from using electronic equipment to capture catchers' signs.
Allegations of sign stealing have extended beyond 2017 and the Astros. This fall, the Yankees accused Houston of whistling to communicate pitches during the American League Championship Series. In 2017, MLB fined the Red Sox for using Apple Watches to steal signs against the Yankees at Fenway Park.