Report: New York judge rules MLB’s 2017 letter to Yankees should be unsealed

A letter from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to the New York Yankees addressing a 2017 investigation of the team should be unsealed, a New York judge ruled on Friday, according to a report from The Athletic.

The Yankees are likely to make an emergency appeal before the letter is to be unsealed on June 19, The Athletic reported. Both the team and Major League Baseball have the opportunity to submit a minimally redacted version “to protect the identity of the individuals mentioned” by Monday.

Judge Jed Rakoff made the ruling as part of the proceedings of a suit brought against MLB stemming from the sign-stealing scandals that led to the league’s disciplining the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox earlier this year. The suit was filed by DraftKings players, who say MLB defrauded them via the actions of the Astros and Red Sox.

Rakoff dismissed the broader case in April and also denied the plaintiffs’ motion to reconsider, according to The Athletic, but the motion contained an allegation that MLB falsely represented its 2017 investigation into the Yankees when revealing its findings.

The plaintiffs, who filed an appeal on Friday, submitted a letter to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman from Manfred.

“There is no justification for public disclosure of the letter,” Jonathan Schiller, a lawyer representing the Yankees, said in a statement to The Athletic. “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.”

The plaintiffs alleged the Yankees’ sign-stealing scheme was more serious than MLB’s 2017 news release announcing the discipline suggested, when it said the Yankees had committed only a minor technical infraction, according to Rakoff’s filing on Friday. The plaintiffs argued MLB’s letter was revelatory, saying it “proved Manfred’s duplicity,” according to The Athletic, which reports both MLB and the Yankees want it to remain private.

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