MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has drawn criticism lately over how the league has handled the Houston Astros' sign-stealing saga.
A large amount of that criticism has come from players around the league, such as Nick Markakis, who voiced his displeasure in the fact that no Astros players were penalized for what was called a "player-driven" sign-stealing system in the league's official investigation.
"I feel like every single guy over there needs a beating," the Braves outfielder told reporters, continuing: "The way [Manfred] handled the situation, he should be embarrassed of himself."
The reason why no players have been punished is that MLB, in working with the Players Association, granted complete "blanket immunity" in exchange for information, a fact that Manfred touched on this past Sunday, but then dug deeper into at a press conference on Tuesday evening.
"Our early efforts were not particularly successful in terms of making progress with the investigation. My office then contacted the MLBPA to request player cooperation. We wanted players to submit to interviews," Manfred explained. "The MLBPA asked if we had a disciplinary intention. I think the response was that we could not rule that out. The union indicated to us that that would be a problem."
"We went back and suggested to them that we would give them an initial list of people, players that we would grant immunity to, preserving our ability to discipline other players, and the union came back and said that players would cooperate, only if there was blanket immunity. And because we were in a bit of a stalemate, we knew we needed player witnesses, we agreed to that immunity agreement."
So while no players will be disciplined for their involvement because of this blanket immunity, Manfred believed it was necessary for his office to accurately obtain the facts of the matter.
"Let me be clear. We would not have gotten where we got in terms of understanding the facts, learning the facts, disclosing the facts, if we hadn't reached that agreement," said Manfred. "So I'm not be critical of anyone, but the fact of the matter is the union wanted an immunity agreement to protect their members, and that's how we got there."
Late on Tuesday, the MLBPA released a statement of their own. In it, the union offered a different timeline than the Commissioner, saying that the league told them from the start that "it was not its intention to discipline players." Manfred had said on Tuesday that the league initially "could not rule that out" and that the MLBPA "indicated to us that that would be a problem."
The MLBPA just released this statement regarding the Astros investigation: "Any suggestion that the Association failed to cooperate with the Commissioner's investigation, obstructed the investigation, or otherwise took positions which led to a stalemate... is completely untrue." pic.twitter.com/e0fhMnhiF6- Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) February 19, 2020
The Astros' penalties started on an organization-side level, with a $5 million fine and vacated first and second-round draft picks for the next two seasons. GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were then each suspended for one year, before each was fired by the club.
Manfred previously addressed the criticism that's come his way, saying on Sunday: "I'm more than prepared to tolerate and listen to the debate and criticism about whether or not the punishments that have been levied in this case are sufficient. But the one thing that I do take issue with is the notion that anybody in the Houston organization escaped without punishment."