Red Sox punished for sign-stealing scandal

Alex Cora at Winter Meetings

Major League Baseball has concluded their investigation into the Boston Red Sox sign-stealing scandal from 2018.

Specifically, the organization was stripped of a future second-round draft pick. Former manager Alex Cora was suspended through the 2020 postseason, but the league made it clear that he was only being punished for his role in Houston’s unrelated sign-stealing scandal.

Video replay system operator J.T. Watkins was handed the most significant punishment, and he’s been banned without pay through the 2020 postseason. Watkins also won’t be allowed to take on the same role in 2021.

Ultimately, MLB attributed much of the scandal to Watkins, and commissioner Rob Manfred made it clear that he wasn’t implicating Cora, Boston’s front office, nor Boston’s players in the scandal. The report noted that Watkins violated regulations by using game feeds in the replay room “on at least some occasions during the 2018 regular season.” Manfred also noted that Boston’s indiscretions weren’t nearly as egregious as Houston’s.

“Communication of these violations was episodic and isolated to Watkins and a limited number of Red Sox players only,” the report said.

It’s a relatively surprising turn of events, and it really seems like a best-case scenario for Boston. From a pure historical standpoint, this news might help to quiet those who were looking to reduce the legitimacy of the Red Sox championship. Considering a lone wolf video operator was providing very specific information to players (Watkins apparently only relayed information that was relevant with runners on second), it’ll be tough for detractors to take away from Boston’s accomplishments.

Further, this is good result for Cora, who was already in the midst of a temporary banishment from baseball after being relieved from his duties earlier this year. While it may take some time for Cora to find another job, today’s news shouldn’t influence his future job-hunting prospects. In other words, Cora would have had a much tougher time finding a job if he had earned two separate punishments from the league.

Finally, from an organizational standpoint, the Red Sox should be relieved that their lone punishment comes in the form of a second-round pick. In fact, it might end up being a good thing for the organization; since 2010, the team has only seen a pair of second-rounders make any MLB impact (Brandon Workman and Sam Travis).

Of course, that last fact was a bit tongue-in-cheek. With Chaim Bloom now running the show, it’s not entirely fair to rely on precedent. Plus, we’re sure the young executive wasn’t anticipating this uphill battle when he first took the job.

Still, considering the reports from earlier this year, things could have been a whole lot worse. Ultimately, when all is said and done, the punishment handed out today shouldn’t have a significant impact on the Boston Red Sox going forward.

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