After dealing with sign-stealing investigations of back-to-back world champions, Major League Baseball was close to agreeing with the union on stricter technology protocols for 2020 that would include isolation of the replay review room, according to a source familiar with those discussions. Those talks were tabled when baseball shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic in March.
The live feed in a replay review room was a key component in discipline handed out by commissioner Rob Manfred against the 2017 Astros and 2018 Red Sox. MLB and the players association were finalizing details on a more secure setting for the room. Only the club’s designated replay room operator and an MLB security official would be permitted in the closed-door room. No one else would be permitted entry.
Replay review areas typically are located near clubhouses, dugouts or runways between the two areas. MLB began placing security agents at video replay monitors in the 2018 postseason. Those agents monitor and log all interactions between the operator and team personnel. They have served as a deterrent in stealing and relaying signs in the manners done in 2017-18.
In addition, 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. “We were on the two-yard line,” the source said of the talks.
All such discussions have been tabled as baseball awaits word on when and if the season can be resumed. “Right now nobody even knows if there will be replay this season,” the source said.