Breaking Down the Details Surrounding the Red Sox Sign Stealing Scandal

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The results are in—Alex Cora will be able to manage baseball again after the 2020 season and the Boston Red Sox will lose their second-round draft pick.

The news of Cora and the Red Sox’s discipline comes after MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced the conclusion of the investigation into the 2018 Red Sox. Cora had managed the Red Sox to a World Series title in 2018 in his first season as manager for the team.

In 2017, Cora had been the bench coach for the Houston Astros and was heavily involved in the team’s sign-sealing operation.

SI’s Madelyn Burke checked in with SI senior baseball writer Tom Verducci for his perspective on the results of the investigation.

“The Red Sox situation here was, as you mentioned, a video replay operator who was the advance scout, and he would break down sign sequencing before the game—perfectly legal,” said Verducci. “But during the game, he was their replay operator, so he had access to the camera feed from center field in real-time.”

If the sign-sequence differed from earlier, he was able to figure that out and eventually pass it along to the players. When the runner got to second base, the Red Sox knew the sequence of signs the runner on second could relay to the batter.

Unlike the Houston Astros, the Red Sox’s illegal activities were limited to the regular season. Commissioner Manfred found no violations in the postseason.

The Red Sox and Cora had already parted ways in January because of his active role in the Astros sign-stealing operation.

How to discipline the Red Sox had been the last thread of the investigation to be resolved. Because of Cora’s role in sign-stealing for the Astros, some thought the Red Sox investigation might add to Cora’s penalty.

“According to Manfred, he was an active participant in the Houston sign-stealing scheme much more than the manager, AJ Hinch,” said Verducci. “So the surprise to me is that Cora essentially gets the same penalty as the manager, essentially a year away from the game, able to return after the 2020 postseason.”

AJ Hinch was initially suspended, then subsequently fired for his role in the sign-stealing scheme.

While Hinch was not an active participant, he also didn’t step in and stop it when he should have. According to MLB, Hinch was held to a higher standard since he had a more senior position to Cora’s bench coach role.

Essentially, this closes the book on the Houston investigation.