A front-office executive from the Houston Astros asked team scouts to pursue sign-stealing and suggested using cameras to do so, according to an August 2017 email obtained by The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich.
"One thing in specific we are looking for is picking up signs coming out of the dugout," the email’s sender wrote. "What we are looking for is how much we can see, how we would log things, if we need cameras/binoculars, etc. So go to game, see what you can (or can’t) do and report back your findings."
Scouts also discussed sign-stealing with the same executive on phone calls and in a group Slack channel, Rosenthal and Drellich note.
Scouts apparently did not like the idea of being asked to steal signs with a camera and voiced their concerns with management.
"Nobody wanted to do that, and take a chance of getting caught and ruining their reputation, not only as a scout but then even further damage what the Astros had going," a person involved in the conversations told The Athletic.
The email follows a report from earlier this week that claimed the Astros were using electronics to steal signs during the 2017 season, the same year they won the World Series. The report was backed up by pitcher Mike Fiers, who played for the Astros that season.
MLB is reportedly investigating the organization to see if they were aware of the illegal sign-stealing and is apparently expanding its probe to include other teams.
The league plans to interview current and former players and employees of the Astros, including manager AJ Hinch, Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, and newly appointed New York Mets skipper Carlos Beltran. Cora was Hinch's bench coach in 2017 and Beltran played the final season of his career with the Astros that same year.
Major League Baseball prohibits clubs from using electronics to gain an unfair advantage by stealing signs.