Major League Baseball has stripped the Boston Red Sox of their second-round pick in the 2020 draft for using video equipment to steal signs from opposing teams during their 2018 championship season, commissioner Rob Manfred announced on Wednesday.
Manfred also suspended team video replay system operator J.T. Watkins for the 2020 regular season and postseason and handed former Red Sox manager Alex Cora the same penalty, though the latter's suspension pertains to his involvement in the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal as that team's bench coach in 2017.
The #RedSox today released the following statement from President & CEO Sam Kennedy in response to Major League Baseball’s report: pic.twitter.com/FLEMdwzgfI— Red Sox (@RedSox) April 22, 2020
No players, coaches or front office personnel on Boston's 2018 team will be subject to discipline for the scandal, which Manfred determined to be far less in scope compared to the Astros' scheme.
Cora and the Red Sox mutually agreed to part ways in January following MLB's investigation into the Astros' use of a camera system to decipher opposing teams' signs and relay them to players during Houston's World Series-winning 2017 season.
The probe led to the Astros dismissing both manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow, both of whom received suspensions for the entire 2020 season.
Cora was found to be a central figure in Houston's scheme along with Carlos Beltran, a player at the time who ultimately resigned as the New York Mets' manager just two months after being hired on Nov. 1.
MLB's investigation into the Red Sox concluded that Watkins "utilised the game feeds in the replay room, in violation of MLB regulations, to revise sign sequence information that he had permissibly provided to players prior to the game."
It was also determined that the information Watkins relayed to players was only relevant when the Red Sox had a runner on second base, which occurred less than 20 percent of the time throughout the league in 2018.
In contrast, the investigation into the Astros found that players were communicating to batters in real time from the dugout, often by banging on a trash can to reveal the type of pitch the opponent was about to throw.
The report did not find any evidence that Cora was aware of Watkins' actions, though Manfred did note the former skipper "did not effectively communicate to Red Sox players the sign-stealing rules that were in place for the 2018 season".
"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," Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy said in a statement.
"Regardless, these rule violations are unacceptable. We apologize to our fans and Major League Baseball, and accept the Commissioner's ruling."
Boston led the majors with 108 wins during the 2018 regular season, Cora's first as a major league manager, and lost only three games during the postseason as they captured the franchise's fourth World Series title since 2004.