Rob Manfred: Giving Astros Players Immunity For 2017 Cheating Scandal ‘Maybe Not My Best Decision’

The Houston Astros won the first World Series in franchise history in 2017 by defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games, but two years later it was revealed they were cheating throughout the season and into the playoffs.

MLB determined the Astros electronically stole signs throughout the 2017 season and into the playoffs, which resulted in commissioner Rob Manfred suspending general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch for one year, a $5 million fine of the organization (highest amount permitted) and making them forfeit their first- and second-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 Drafts.

Despite the punishments given to the organization and its leadership, none were given to the players involved with the scheme. This was because Manfred offered the players immunity in exchange for their cooperation when he started his investigation.

It’s a decision the commissioner admitted he now holds some regret over, via Sean Gregory of TIME:

“I’m not sure that I would have approached it with giving players immunity. Once we gave players immunity, it puts you in a box as to what exactly you were going to do in terms of punishment. I might have gone about the investigative process without that grant of immunity and see where it takes us. Starting with, I’m not going to punish anybody, maybe not my best decision ever.”

The decision to grant immunity caused some players around the league to criticize MLB for setting a soft precedent against cheating, and many felt the punishments were more of a slap on the wrist.

Particularly since they ultimately did not affect those who were most involved, such as Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, George Springer, Yuli Gurriel, Josh Reddick and Marwin Gonzalez.

The Astros were also not stripped of their World Series championship because the trophy was just a “piece of metal,” according to Manfred, and he wanted fans and players to determine if the outcome was legitimate. Manfred’s original goal in the investigation was only to find the facts so people could decide how they felt about it.

Astros players and coaches were forced to apologize for their roles in the scandal, but many believed they were disingenuous, especially with Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora later bragging about stealing the World Series title.

It was also never publicly revealed how much the players knew and how deep the scheme went into the postseason, but former Astros catcher Evan Gattis revealed on Twitter the team knew what pitches Clayton Kershaw was throwing in their Game 5 victory.

While many of the Astros’ players and executives wouldn’t admit their cheating helped them win the World Series, Carlos Beltran said the scandal does leave a blemish on their first championship in franchise history.

Joe Kelly: Astros 2017 championship ‘tarnished for life’

Joe Kelly was not on the Dodgers roster when they were cheated out of the 2017 World Series, but he has been among the most outspoken players about the topic and often critical of Manfred.

Kelly eventually involved himself in the matter when he made a pouty face after striking out Carlos Correa during a regular season game at Minute Maid Park during the 2020 season. The matchup was the first between the Dodgers and Astros since the tainted World Series.

Kelly wound up getting suspended for eight games, which he appealed down to five. The right-hander continued to speak critically of not only the Astros but Manfred as well, which included his explanation of why he believes the Astros will never fully escape negative perception because of the cheating scandal.

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