MLBPA: We fully cooperated with league on Astros’ probe

The Major League Baseball Players Association said in a statement late Tuesday that they fully cooperated with the league regarding the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing investigation after commissioner Rob Manfred said MLB and the union had reached an agreement for player immunity to avoid a stalemate.

“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.

“We acted to protect the rights of our members, as is our obligation under the law.”

Earlier, commissioner Rob Manfred revealed to reporters in Scottsdale, Ariz., the process that the league used in handling the investigation. Manfred said he originally told the Players Association that the league wouldn’t rule out disciplining players, but said he got pushback from the union.

“The union indicated to us that would be a problem,” Manfred told reporters Tuesday. “We went back and suggested to them 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. Because we were at a bit of a stalemate, we knew we needed player witnesses, we agreed to that immunity agreement.”

Manfred also said the league wouldn’t have gotten as far in their investigation if they did not reach the agreement with the union.

“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,” he said. “So, I’m not being 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.”

This is an issue that potentially could divide members of the union as many players and stars such as Mike Trout and Aaron Judge have ripped the Astros for cheating.

“This is a pivotal time for our game, and these are critically important issues,” according to the union’s statement. “How the parties handle the next several weeks will significantly affect what our game looks like for the next several decades. The opportunity is now to forge a new path forward.”

Earlier, the commissioner also was forced to apologize for calling the World Series Trophy a “piece of metal.”

“In an effort to make a rhetorical point I referred to the World Series trophy in a disrespectful way. … It was a mistake to say what I said,” Manfred said.

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