Major League Baseball his finally issued its penalty to the Boston Red Sox for stealing signs in the 2018 season. Compared to the Houston Astros it’s pretty darn light. Primarily because the primary culprit was the team’s video replay system operator, not any players, coaches or front office personnel.
- Video replay operator J.T. Watkins will be banned through the 2020 playoffs and taking the same position in 2021;
- Former Manager Alex Cora is banned through the 2020 playoffs, but only for his conduct with Houston Astros in 2017, as bench coach, which was detailed in the Astros’ disciplinary report, not for anything he did with the Red Sox; and
- The team will lose a second round pick in the 2020 draft.
Pursuant to the investigative report just issued by Commissioner Rob Manfred, Watkins, “on at least some occasions during the 2018 regular season,” illegally utilized game feeds in the replay room to help players during games. Manfred found this to be less egregious than the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scheme. Manfred made no finding that Boston’s sign-stealing conduct continued during the 2018 postseason or 2019 regular season.
Watkins, meanwhile, is reported to have “vehemently denied engaging in wrongdoing.”
Manfred, in requiring the Red Sox to forfeit a draft pick, said, “the club must be held accountable, particularly since the club may have benefited from Watkins’ conduct.” Manfred said he did not consider imposing discipline on players, just as he did not discipline any Astros players.
Red Sox President Sam Kennedy issued the following statement in the wake of the report:
“As an organization, we strive for 100% compliance with the rules. MLB’s investigation concluded that in isolated instances during the 2018 regular season, sign sequences were decoded through the use of live game video rather than through permissible means.
“MLB acknowledged the front office’s extensive efforts to communicate and enforce the rules and concluded that Alex Cora, the coaching staff, and most of the players did not engage in, nor were they aware of, any violations. Regardless, these rule violations are unacceptable. We apologize to our fans and Major League Baseball, and accept the Commissioner’s ruling.”