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Major League Baseball fines the Red Sox for the Apple Watch sign stealing incident

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A little over a week ago, the Red Sox were caught stealing signs via instant replay monitoring equipment and the use of Apple watches. They were caught after the Yankees noticed the scheme and reported them to Major League Baseball. In turn, the Red Sox complained that the Yankees had used a YES Network camera to spy on the Red Sox dugout, likely to steal signs as well. Major League Baseball has been investigating and, a few minutes ago, leveled its discipline. From Rob Manfred’s statement:

I have decided to fine the Red Sox an undisclosed amount which in turn will be donated by my office to hurricane relief efforts in Florida.  Moreover, all 30 Clubs have been notified that future violations of this type will be subject to more serious sanctions, including the possible loss of draft picks.

In reaching this decision, Manfred said that the Red Sox immediately stopped using the Apple Watch scheme as soon as they were reported and then cooperated fully with the investigation. He added that “the violation in question occurred without the knowledge of ownership or front office personnel.” He did not say, it should be noted, that it was without the knowledge of manager John Farrell, though Farrell has not been specifically disciplined. Manfred added that, unlike other sign stealing incidents which do not violate baseball’s rules, this one used technology to do so, and that violated then-Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Sandy Alderson’s 2001 memo which prohibited the use of electronic equipment in stealing signs.

Manfred went on and addressed the Red Sox’ claim that the Yankees used cameras to steal signs and found insufficient evidence to discipline them for that. He added something curious however:

“In the course of our investigation, however, we learned that during an earlier championship season (prior to 2017) the Yankees had violated a rule governing the use of the dugout phone.  No Club complained about the conduct in question at the time and, without prompting from another Club or my Office, the Yankees halted the conduct in question.  Moreover, the substance of the communications that took place on the dugout phone was not a violation of any Rule or Regulation in and of itself.  Rather, the violation occurred because the dugout phone technically cannot be used for such a communication.

“Based on the foregoing, I have decided to fine the Yankees a lesser undisclosed amount which in turn will be donated by my office to hurricane relief efforts in Florida.”

Seems odd that he’d reach back to a previous season to discipline sign stealing by the Yankees. Almost as if he wanted to slap both sides in this, regardless. Maybe that’s wise in that it might stop the tit-for-tat stuff the Yankees and Red Sox have apparently been involved in. Still, strange.

This would now seem to be over. The Yankees and Red Sox don’t face each other again during the regular season. They could, however, face each other in the playoffs. I assume both teams will be changing their signs before then.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.