Washington Nationals star pitcher Max Scherzer believes there is a better way to use review system to ensure fair play in baseball, and it's up to the league and the MLBPA to make the necessary changes.
"Replay has been in the game and enhances the game, but we’ve seen the unintended consequences of this," he told The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal in an interview that aired on Friday night on MLB Network.
Scherzer, the Nationals’ representative to the union, added that the MLBPA and MLB are trying to decide how much access players should have to replay during the game.
According to Rosenthal and Evan Drellich, the two sides have exchanged proposals and are actively discussing new rules to help prevent electronic sign stealing.
These talks come in response to the news of and MLB's subsequent investigation into the Houston Astros' elaborate sign-stealing scheme, which the team used during the 2017 regular season and postseason, and during at least part of the '18 season.
In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said he has considered making video rooms unavailable to teams once games start. The only monitor available to a team could be a replay screen with an MLB security official standing next to it.
"That's the first path," Manfred said. "It is an option. We have talked about it. We are not done on 2020 [protocols], no."
When asked if more protocols will be in place by the start of the 2020 season, Manfred replied, "Absolutely."
While rumors about the Astros stealing signs illegally floated around baseball over the past few years, the allegations didn't gain much public traction until November, when ex-Houston pitcher Mike Fiers accused his former team of using a centerfield camera to steal catchers' signs in a report from The Athletic. The pitches were then relayed to batters by a teammate or teammates banging on a trash can in the dugout. Since then, baseball has been in the throws of its biggest cheating scandal since the Steroid Era.
MLB launched an investigation into the allegations and confirmed they were true. As a result, on Jan. 13 Manfred suspended manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow through the 2020 World Series. Shortly after, Astros owner Jim Crane fired Hinch and Luhnow. Two other managers, Alex Cora of the Red Sox and Carlos Beltrán of the Mets, were also fired for their roles in the sign-stealing operation while they were with the 2017 Astros.
Since the suspensions were levied, the sign-stealing scandal has led to other allegations against the Astros—some confirmed, others uncorroborated—and multiple unsuccessful apology attempts from those involved.
Even before the 2017 Astros, questions about technology's place in baseball have been heightened by reports of sign stealing in recent years.
In 2017, MLB fined the Red Sox for using Apple Watches to steal signs against the Yankees at Fenway Park. Last fall, the Yankees accused the Astros of whistling to communicate pitches during the American League Championship Series, which Houston won in six games before losing the World Series to Scherzer's Nationals in seven games.
Rosenthal said MLB and MLBPA are "not said to be far apart," but that it’s unclear how quickly a deal will be struck.
The goal, according to Rosenthal, is to reach an agreement before the regular season.