With MLB embroiled in a sign-stealing scandal that threatens to destroy the credibility of professional baseball, new allegations surfaced Thursday that indicate that members of the cash-strapped 2019 Miami Marlins team may have been selling signs to opposing teams.
An unnamed team source told The Brown Valley Observer about a wide-reaching strategy in which low salary Marlins players would “become chummy” with opponents during pre-game warm-ups and once a rapport had been established, players would casually offer to sell any amount of the team’s hand signals to the opposing teams for cash or gifts. Making the plan more elaborate, the team created multiple unique sets of hand signals so that they could change signals from game to game, forcing opponents to pay-up multiple times over the course of a series to keep up with the Marlins’ sign scheme. In some cases, a Marlins player would be assigned to feed signs to opponents from the top step of the dugout.
According to the source, Marlins players received a variety of compensation from opposing players and teams including cash stipends of up to $800 per game and pizza parties. In the meantime, the team lost 105 games.
“Sometimes just one guy would buy the signs and enjoy a 4 for 5 night at the plate and the (Marlins) would eat like kings for the night. Other times, members of the other team’s coaching staff would buy in, and they’d get a chance to stuff their wallets, as well” the source reported.
“It’s hard to blame them” the source confided. “Some of these kids are barely scraping by with two cars and and a used house. These guys are in the prime of their lives, 22 years old and famous, and they can hardly afford to drop $500 on blow and a stripper in a night. Then, they go out to other cities and they see some other subpar players making $2 million or $3 million a year and they start thinking, Well, I’m below-average, too, why can’t I have the nice things these other guys have?”
Despite three players with salaries over $10M per season, the Marlins had the lowest payroll in MLB in 2019, with most of the lineup making at or just above league-minimum salary.
The Brown Valley Observer reached out to Marlins’ ownership partner and team spokesman Derek Jeter about the allegations, and he replied via email with a brief statement relaying his shock and disappointment.
“You can’t go around the clubhouse of a poverty-line young organization like this and not hear about pie-in-the-sky dreams about raises and contract extensions. The franchise, however, made it very clear to the players during spring training that there was just no way that anyone was going to make any more money here because, in my opinion, no baseball player is worth millions of dollars in salary. We’re trying to unload the well-paid guys we already have. We finished in last place a year ago with as many league-minimum players as we could find, and we can sure do it again with a bunch of other shitty replacement-level guys.
I find it disturbing hearing that my players may have gone behind my back and got an extra ten or twenty grand that they clearly didn’t need when I made it clear that they couldn’t have any more money. You can trust that an internal investigation will be taking place to discover as much as we can about these allegations.” -Derek Jeter via email
The source reported that MLB has been notified, but at first he was not convinced that there would be a league investigation of the matter, which would implicate both the Marlins and any player or coach who had paid for signs from the Marlins players.
“(Commissioner Rob) Manfred kind of laughed this one off, like he does anything that might bring bad press to the game,” the source told the Observer. “But once he heard I was willing to go to the media, then suddenly his tune started to change and MLB will formally announce this investigation in the coming days. This one goes pretty deep and I’m interested in seeing how far the league is willing to go to penalize the teams and players for their involvement in a sign-selling scandal.”