Months after the New York Yankees and the rest of MLB learned the penalties facing the Houston Astros for their 2017 sign-stealing scandal, a verdict was finally released on the Boston Red Sox for their alleged involvement in a similar scheme in 2018.
Boston’s punishment was underwhelming, at best, by comparison.
The Red Sox will lose their second-round pick in the upcoming draft. The only member of the organization to receive a suspension was J.T. Watkins, a former minor league catcher who now serves as the team’s replay operator and advance scout. Watkins was suspended for the 2020 season.
Houston lost its first and second-round picks in the upcoming draft. GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were both suspended for the upcoming season and subsequently fired. The organization was also fined a substantial sum of money.
MLB dragged their feet on releasing their official report on the Boston side of their investigation. Houston’s punishment was doled out in December. Most expected the Boston punishment to come before spring training began. Then the deadline was March 1. Then before Opening Day. Then nothing.
After a while, it seemed clear MLB just wanted to move past it all. Then finally, on the eve of the NFL Draft in a time when everyone was starved for sports to focus on, they released their report on the Red Sox. An underwhelming punishment announced during a time when most were paying their attention elsewhere.
Count Yankees manager Aaron Boone among those who feel it’s time to move forward, according to quote he gave the YES Network (via Dan Martin of The New York Post):
"“I don’t know. Who knows exactly what went down? I do trust that Major League Baseball thoroughly investigated and got to the bottom of things as best they can. I feel like if that’s what they come up with, so be it, it’s time to move on.”"
Boone is, no matter how you feel about the punishment, likely right.
It was clear when Houston’s punishment was handed down that no players would see suspensions. That was an agreement the league made quickly when their investigations began in order to get the players to cooperate, despite it proving to be an unpopular opinion to many (both fans and other players). It was no surprise to see that none of the Red Sox players weren’t suspended here.
Alex Cora had already received a suspension for his role with Houston and had been fired (they “mutually parted ways”) by Boston, so nothing new was added on by MLB.
The suspension of Watkins likely means a change to how teams access their replay rooms during games league-wide. Boston has said he will return to his role with the team after the suspension concludes.
The suspensions handed to Watkins, Cora, Hinch are all for the 2020 season — even if there are no games played.
In the end, Boone is likely right. It’s time to move on. Getting everyone back on the field safely is priority number one for the Yankees and MLB. The Astros were booed by fans and thrown at by a handful of opposing pitchers in spring training. They and the Red Sox may see some of that whenever baseball does resume, but beyond that, we can likely say we’re done with this situation.