Red Sox Breaking News: MLB Investigation into 2018 team completed
The Boston Red Sox have been waiting since January to receive the results of the MLB’s investigation into the 2018 team. Today is finally that day.
It’s time to rejoice Red Sox Nation! After months, yes you read that correctly, months, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has finally released the findings of his investigation into the 2018 team. Allegations first came to light back in January thanks to a report from The Athletic that fingered Boston as culprits in a cheating scandal involving sign stealing.
Moments ago, Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported that Manfred had made his findings public.
To summarize the report and boil it down to its most basic components, the Red Sox themselves did nothing wrong. This is great news to all of Red Sox Nation as with the length of the investigation it felt like the MLB would find nothing or unearth some dastardly plan. The league did point the finger and punish J.T. Watkins, Boston’s replay system operator.
Per the Commissioner’s report:
"“As noted above, I feel bound by the agreement not to impose discipline on Red Sox players who testified truthfully in this matter. Even if I were not so bound, I do not believe that the Red Sox players who suspected that Watkins used game feeds to decode sign sequences should be held responsible for his conduct.”"
In his report Manfred claimed through the investigation it was Watkins who was the one that improperly used the replay rooms at Fenway Park. Manfred claims that Watkins would use the replay systems to update and revise the sign sequences that the team had decoded prior to the actual games.
Watkins will be suspended for the 2020 season, which at this point, could be damn near nothing at all. The other name that came up in the results of the report was former manager Alex Cora. The World Champion skipper was made to be the devil incarnate in the Astros investigation by the rats in Houston.
"“I find that unlike the Houston Astros’ 2017 conduct, in which players communicated to the batter from the dugout area in real time the precise type of pitch about to be thrown, Watkins’s conduct, by its very nature, was far more limited in scope and impact.”"
Cora, as well as his coaching staff, were found to have done zero wrongdoing during 2018. Instead, AC will be suspended through the completion of the 2020 playoffs as a punishment for his involvement with the mess in Houston. It equates to being the same punishment as former Astros manager AJ Hinch, and Houston GM Jeff Luhnow.
There was a semi-big punishment in this whole thing and that was the loss of a 2020 draft pick. Boston was set to have a pick in the second round and with the draft this year being extremely scaled-down, that could hurt in the long-term.
However, in the grand scheme of what could’ve been done by the MLB, this wasn’t even a slap on the wrist. Having his name cleared has to be a giant sigh of relief for Cora and now he can begin to figure out what his future may hold.
"” I do not find that then-Manager Alex Cora, the Red Sox coaching staff, the Red Sox front office, or most of the players on the 2018 Red Sox knew or should have known that Watkins was utilizing in-game video to update the information that he had learned from his pregame analysis.”"
So how does this affect the Red Sox going forward?
Well, I already mentioned the draft pick, that will cause the most waves down the road. Losing a draft pick especially in this year’s draft could mean losing out on a generational talent. In the grand scheme of things, I’d rather lose that draft pick than everything that Houston lost back in January.
Cora only being suspended through this season could also mean his return next year. Ron Roenicke was only ever going to be an interim manager as he was the best option with all of the turmoil surrounding the Red Sox. Granted I can’t guarantee that Chaim Bloom will want to bring back Cora, but it’s well known how beloved AC is by his players, coaches, and bosses.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the announcement come across the newswire in a few months that the dynamic skipper will be returning to Fenway Park. I saw plenty of people chime in with their opinions that he was a cheater and this and that. Based on the sketchy way he was thrown under the bus in Houston and now that he was found essentially not-guilty in Boston, I wouldn’t be shocked to see that fickle opinion do a 180.
I feel like I have been writing solely about this investigation ever since the initial report all the way back in January. There have been so many bumps in the road since and there is zero chance this didn’t have an effect on how the Red Sox played their offseason.
The Red Sox were nothing but compliant and transparent with the league from the get-go. Anytime it seemed that they were asked to do anything or offer up anything, they were quick to do so. And rightfully so, they had nothing to hide. Add in the numerous player denials of any cheating in 2018 and it felt like this result was a matter of time.
Boston was quick to respond to the MLB’s findings and the Red Sox accepted the punishment, apologized, and promised to be better in the future.
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"“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.”"
This has been an unnecessarily long saga for the Red Sox that saw a man lose his job despite not breaking any rules. Did Cora participate in sign-stealing with the Astros? Yes, he did. Was it to the extent to which Houston made it sound to be? Sure doesn’t seem so. He was, for the lack of a better word, fired by the Red Sox due to his involvement with Houston. Now that he has a clean record with Boston I just can’t see him anywhere else in 2021 but with the Red Sox.
Boston can now move on with their plans for whatever the 2020 season may be and begin to plan for 2021. Having a clear road in front of them will take a lot of weight off the shoulders of the players as well as CBO Chaim Bloom. Each will be able to do their jobs to the best of their abilities now without some proverbial noose around their necks. Let’s play ball!