Alex Cora Exonerated in Red Sox Scandal, Suspended Through 2020 for Astros' Incident

Rob Bradford
April 22, 2020 - 3:06 pm

Former Red Sox manager Alex Cora will be exonerated from any wrongdoing during the 2018 Red Sox season, being hit with a suspension through the 2020 postseason for his participation in the Astros cheating scandal. The report, which was obtained by The Athletic, pins blame on video operator J.T. Watkins, who is suspended through the 2020 postseason while not being allowed to hold his same job in 2021. The Red Sox were also stripped of a 2020 second-round draft pick.

The Athletic's report states:

The league did not find that Boston’s impermissible conduct continued during the 2018 postseason or 2019 regular season.

Manfred said the investigation included interviews with 65 witnesses, including 34 current and former Red Sox players, as well as reviews of tens of thousands of emails, text messages, video clips and photographs. The league’s department of investigations interviewed some witnesses multiple times, and Manfred said he personally met with several.

It goes on to say: 

"... the league essentially determined that Watkins acted as a rogue employee. Manfred absolved Cora and his coaches from responsibility and found the team’s front office effectively communicated baseball’s sign-stealing rules to non-player staff."

The Red Sox and Cora had agreed to mutually part ways on Jan. 14 after The Athletic reported the Red Sox were involved in an improper use of the in-game video system, with a team statement saying the two parties "collectively decided that it would not be possible for Alex to effectively lead the club going forward."

As for what kind of system Watkins was reportedly involved in, Commissioner Rob Manfred's statement read: “Prior to the start of the 2018 season, the Red Sox moved the replay station from a relatively remote upstairs area to a small room just outside of the dugout that also housed several stations for players to review clips of their past at bats, known as BATS stations. Watkins was the sole Red Sox employee staffed in this replay room, but other staff and players trafficked in and out of the room to review the BATS monitors or speak to Watkins about his advanced research on various topics.”

Manfred went on to report, "One player, who was interviewed twice, said that he had no doubt that Watkins utilized the replay room to decode signs on occasion, and said that he watched Watkins attempt to decode the sign sequence by writing sign information on computer paper while he watched the replay station in the replay room and then circling the correct sign in the sequence after the pitch was thrown,” Manfred said. “Another player said that he believed that 90% of Watkins’s sign sequence information was obtained from his advance work, but that 10% of the time Watkins ‘obviously’ updated that information from in-game video feeds."

To read the entire report, click here.

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