After weeks of investigation, MLB has determined that specifically within the Red Sox organization, it was not manager Alex Cora who was at the center of the team’s sign-stealing efforts. Rather, it was a video operator named J.T. Watkins.
This news comes from Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic, who note that Cora, who was suspended by commissioner Rob Manfred for his efforts in a separate Houston Astros’ scandal and subsequently fired by the Red Sox, was not found to have spearheaded Boston’s rule-breaking during the 2018 regular season.
So while Cora remains out of baseball for this year, “Watkins will be suspended without pay for the 2020 regular season and prohibited from serving as a replay room operator for the 2021 regular season and postseason.” Though Manfred has repeatedly laid blame at the hands of managers and general managers in such circumstances, Watkins allegedly “acted as a rogue employee.”
Watkins and 30 of the 34 Red Sox players interviewed by the league denied Watkins’ cheating, according to the report from The Athletic. The league investigation also determined that the Red Sox sign-stealing efforts did not continue in the 2018 postseason, when they won the World Series, or in the 2019 regular season. Boston will also forfeit a 2020 second-round pick as part of the punishment to be handed down by the league.
Manfred is reportedly quoted in the investigation’s official report as saying, “Many players told my investigators that they were unaware that in-game sign decoding from the replay station had been prohibited in 2018 and 2019.”
Those same players, according to Watkins, “were aware that they were supposed to routinely provide him with sign information gathered when they were on second base.” Clearly, Watkins was at the center of the efforts, but the report seems to leave much undetermined.