Publish date:

Rob Manfred Says Astros' Trash Can Banging Occurred During 2017 Postseason

Speaking at his annual Spring Training press conference in Arizona, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed to reporters that the Astros utilized their trash can banging system during the 2017 postseason. 

"Garbage can signaling went on during the 2017 postseason," Manfred said, clarifying a point that wasn't explicitly clear in the original Jan. 13 report. "There was conflicting evidence on that point. In an investigation you often have conflicting evidence and it was my view that the more credible evidence was that they continued to use this scheme in the postseason."

When asked by Sports Illustrated's Stephanie Apstein what that "more credible evidence" was, Manfred responded: "Yeah, it was statements from players."

The Los Angeles Times' Jorge Castillo notes that some Astros players have previously refuted that they used the trash can scheme in the postseason.

When employing the method, opponent pitches were relayed to batters by a teammate or teammates banging on a trash can in the dugout, using a center field video camera to steal signs in real time. The Astros won the World Series that year and defeated the Yankees in seven games in the ALCS—winning all four ALCS games played in Houston.

Manfred also made clear Tuesday that he guaranteed player immunity in cooperating with his initial investigation. While he said that the MLBPA refused to make Astros players available for interviews without blanket immunity, the Players' Associated said in a statement that, "Any suggestion that the Association failed to cooperate with the Commissioner's investigation, obstructed the investigation or otherwise took positions which led to a statement in the investigation is completely untrue."

Manfred additionally apologized for calling the World Series trophy "a piece of metal" in a recent interview with ESPN. 

SI Recommends

The commissioner has addressed the scandal multiple times in recent days. On Sunday, Manfred addressed reporters at his annual preseason Florida press conference, noting, among other details, that Astros players were "equally consistent" in their denials of using buzzers in 2019. 

Manfred also previously stated MLB did consider stripping Houston of its 2017 World Series title as part of its punishment, but eventually decided against it, citing a lack of precedent and that spectators will always know something was different about the 2017 Astros team.

In the aforementioned interview with ESPN, he said that the Astros' recent apology for the scandal was "not successful."

Manfred reiterated there will likely be changes about in-game video usage by the start of the regular season. He previously told Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci that 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. He alluded to similar changes Sunday.

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Friday that MLB and MLBPA are "not said to be far apart" in a new agreement that would help prevent electronic sign stealing, but that it’s unclear how quickly a deal will be struck.

The wave of questions Sunday largely stemmed back from Manfred's Jan. 13 nine-page report detailing how Houston cheated during the 2017–18 regular seasons and postseasons. Manfred suspended Astros manager AJ Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow through the 2020 World Series, but team owner Jim Crane subsequently fired them.

In the wake of the scandal, the Red Sox and Mets later parted ways with managers Alex Cora and Carlos Beltrán after both men were named in MLB's report. Cora served as the Astros' bench coach in 2017, while Beltrán was a member of the World Series-winning roster.