After an investigation into allegations of the Boston Red Sox stealing signs during the 2018 baseball season, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has handed down disciplinary action on the guilty parties.
Manfred has suspended the Red Sox video system operator J.T. Watkins for the entire 2020 baseball season and any post season play. Once Watkins has served his suspension and returns to the Red Sox organization, he will not be allowed to return to the video room for the 2021 regular and post seasons.
The Boston Red Sox must forfeit their second round pick during the 2020 First-Year Player Draft this summer.
Noting that Alex Cora who was the bench coach for the Houston Astros in 2017, who were also involved in sign stealing, was not aware of the activities, he did fail to properly relay the League’s rules when it comes to the stealing of signs; Manfred has suspended Cora for the entire 2020 baseball season; including the post season. The Red Sox fired Cora as the manager of the team in January.
Mandred’s disciplinary action was the toughest on video system operator Watkins since it was Watkins who used the video replay system to anylize catcher’s signs which he then provided to players.
In response to the penalties, Red Sox President and CEO Sam Kennedy noted that the rules violations were unacceptable and apologized the fans; adding that they accept the Commissioner’s ruling.
Manfred’s investigation ran from January to late March and included interviewing 65 witnesses – 34 past and present from the Red Sox organization -; along with thousands of emails, photographs, video clips, and text messages in determining his verdict. Manfred noted that the Red Sox cooperated fully with the investigation.
Earlier this year, Manfred ruled that the Houston Astros were also involved in a sign stealing scheme and suspended Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow and team manager AJ Hinch for one year – Astros owner Jime Crane had fired both men, fined the Astros $5 million, and took the first and second round college draft choices for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. The investigation determined that then bench coach Alex Cora was an integral part of the scheme.
Manfred noted that all 30 MLB teams have been warned about any future violations; adding that any further violations would see more serious penalties.