A federal judge has given the New York Yankees until noon on Monday, June 15 to unseal a 2017 letter from Major League Baseball that may link the team to sign-stealing, according to Evan Drellich of The Athletic.
The Yankees argued that making the contents of the letter public would result in "significant reputational injury," judge Jed Rakoff said Friday in his order stemming from a lawsuit that fantasy sports contestants filed against the team and the league. The lawsuit was dismissed in April.
"There is no justification for public disclosure of the letter," said Yankees lawyer Jonathan Schiller. "The plaintiff has no case anymore, and the court held that what MLB wrote in confidence was irrelevant to the court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s case. Under established law, this supports the Yankees’ right to confidentiality required by the commissioner of Baseball."
MLB investigated the Yankees in 2017, and a press release states the club was, at worst, guilty of minor infractions. The lawsuit argues the sealed letter proved otherwise.
"Plaintiffs alleged that the 2017 press release falsely suggested that the investigation found that the Yankees had only engaged in a minor technical infraction, whereas, according to plaintiffs, the investigation had in fact found that the Yankees engaged in a more serious, sign-stealing scheme," Rakoff wrote Friday.
The plaintiffs' allegation is not accurate, people with direct knowledge of the investigation told SNY's Andy Martino. Martino's sources also told him the letter does not allege that the Yankees participated in illegal sign-stealing.
The investigation revealed the Boston Red Sox used an Apple Watch to relay signs, but it also indicated the Yankees were involved in schemes too, though specifics weren't detailed. The letter may shed light on the Yankees' specific behavior at the time.
Schiller maintains there's no basis for the letter, which is a confidential document, to be made public. MLB is arguing that making the disciplinary findings public could undermine its ability to conduct further internal investigations.
It's the latest chapter in MLB's sign-stealing saga. Following the investigation into the 2017 Astros, general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were both fired and suspended for one year. Red Sox manager - and former Astros bench coach - Alex Cora was let go due to his involvement in the scandal. The New York Mets also parted ways with new skipper Carlos Beltran, who played for the Astros in 2017, before he managed a single game.
Current and former Yankees players have been some of the most vocal with their criticisms of the Astros following the league's findings. Retired left-hander CC Sabathia said Houston's conduct made him feel cheated, while Giancarlo Stanton said he would have hit 80 home runs if he knew what pitches were coming.