After a long wait, we finally learned of the official outcome of the Red Sox sign-stealing investigation. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred docked the team its 2020 second-round pick. He also suspended the club’s replay coordinator, J.T. Watkins, after determining that Watkins had at times used a TV feed during games to figure out an opponents’ signs and then conveyed that information to “a limited number of Red Sox players,” who could then attempt to apply it if they reached second base. There was evidently no evidence of a broader effort by team leadership, which (per Manfred) had in fact “consistently communicated MLB’s sign-stealing rules to non-player staff and made commendable efforts toward instilling a culture of compliance in their organization.”

Manfred took a much harsher view of the conduct of the Astros, whose World Series-winning 2017 club was judged to have engaged in a broad-based, long-running, and rather expansive effort to ascertain signs and convey them in real time to batters. The Houston organization was docked four top draft choices and $5MM, while its manager and general manager were hit with year-long suspensions.

A slightly lesser (season-long) ban has now been applied to former Astros bench coach and Red Sox manager Alex Cora, though Manfred made clear it was for his conduct while in Houston. Cora lost his job in Boston over the offseason after the Astros fired A.J. Hinch and Jeff Luhnow. Former Astros player Carlos Beltran also departed his managerial gig with the Mets before it really even started.

Since the actions against Cora didn’t stem from his time with the Red Sox, it wasn’t really part of the punishment. The team will have to fill in for Watkins, though that action was obviously targeted primarily at him personally. As for the lost draft pick, Manfred made clear he levied the punishment because the Red Sox may have benefited, not because of any organizational failing.

When we polled the MLBTR readership on Manfred’s handling of the Astros case, most felt it was either on the mark or too light. How do you feel about his actions with regards to the Red Sox? (Poll link for app users; response order randomized.)

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