MLB letter to New York Yankees about sign-stealing allegations to be made public despite appeal

NEW YORK -- A letter detailing a 2017 investigation into the New York Yankees will become a public document, two years after a federal judge ruled it should be unsealed.

The plaintiffs in a lawsuit over the daily fantasy ramifications of electronic sign-stealing in baseball allege that a 2017 news release from commissioner Rob Manfred hid the full findings of what MLB discovered the Yankees had done. The letter's impending release will reveal any differences between what Manfred said in public about his findings and what was revealed in private.

Manfred wrote the letter to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, and it is alleged to contain proof of the team's sign-stealing methods from 2017, when New York was busted for improperly using a dugout phone and the Boston Red Sox were found to be using Apple Watches to pick up on signals from opposing teams.

A source told ESPN it will be at least two weeks before the letter is made public.

Yankees team president Randy Levine argued against the release of the letter in December 2020, saying it would raise "serious" privacy issues and that letters by the Houston Astros and the Red Sox, filed as confidential in the suit, weren't being made public. Levine also said that the letter would harm the Yankees' reputation.

"The Yankees argue that the harm from the unsealing of the Yankees Letter will rise because its content 'would be distorted to falsely and unfairly generate the confusing scenario that the Yankees had somehow violated MLB's sign stealing rules, when in fact the Yankees did not,'" the court wrote. "That argument, however, carries little weight. Disclosure of the document will allow the public to independently assess MLB's conclusion regarding the internal investigation (as articulated to the Yankees) and the Yankees are fully capable of disseminating their own views regarding the actual content of the Yankees letter."

Major League Baseball and the Yankees did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The court also upheld the dismissal of the $5 million lawsuit over the illegal sign-stealing scandal that rocked baseball from 2019 through 2020 filed by DraftKings player Kristopher Olson and 100 other plaintiffs against MLB, the Astros and the Red Sox.