Red Sox stripped of draft pick, Cora suspended for 2020

Massachusetts

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora during the first inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

NEW YORK (AP/WWLP) — The Boston Red Sox were stripped of their second-round pick in this year’s amateur draft by Major League Baseball for breaking video rules in 2018. Former manager Alex Cora was also suspended through the 2020 postseason for his previous conduct as bench coach with the Houston Astros.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced his decision Wednesday, concluding Red Sox replay system operator J.T. Watkins used in-game video to revise sign sequences provided to players. Watkins was suspended without pay through this year’s postseason and prohibited from serving as the replay room operator through the 2021 season.

Manfred found Boston’s conduct far less egregious than that of the Astros, whom he determined used video to steal catchers’ signs during their run to the 2017 World Series title and again during the 2018 season.

Manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended through the 2020 postseason on Jan, 13 and Houston was fined $5 million, the maximum under the Major League Constitution.

The Astros were penalized their next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks.

Manfred said Cora did not know and had no reason to know of Watkins’ conduct. Cora left Houston after the 2017 season and managed the Red Sox to the 2018 title.

Fallout from the January penalties caused Cora and newly hired New York Mets manager Carlos Beltrán to lose their jobs. Cora and Beltrán, the senior player on the 2017 Astros, were the key individuals in a scheme to place a camera near Houston’s dugout and have players bang on a trash can to signal breaking pitchers.

The Boston Red Sox’s President & CEO Sam Kennedy released the following statement in response to Major League Baseball’s 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.”

The Red Sox will hold a conference call with President & CEO Sam Kennedy, Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom and General Manager Brian O’Halloran Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m.  

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