UPDATE: The Red Sox have announced they have parted ways with Alex Cora. Read an earlier assessment of the situation below:
Red Sox manager Alex Cora is under intense scrutiny the day after Major League Baseball levied an unprecedented punishment on the Houston Astros for a sign-stealing scandal and hinted that Cora — a former Astros bench coach — could be harshly punished as well.
Speculation is soaring over Cora’s future in Boston after the Astros fired manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow. The moves came after the league suspended the two men for the team's illicit use of electronics to steal signs in 2017 and 2018 — a scheme the league believes Cora developed.
Complicating matters, the league is investigating whether the Red Sox engaged in sign-stealing activities during its World Championship season in 2018. That investigation was triggered by a report in the Athletic that claimed the Red Sox used their video replay room to steal signs.
Here’s what we know about the scandals.
What Happened in Houston?
The league’s investigation found that the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher's signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter's odds of getting a hit.
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Commissioner Rob Manfred said Hinch failed to stop the sign stealing and Luhnow was responsible for the players' conduct even though he made the dubious claim he was not aware. Manfred said owner Jim Crane was not informed.
What was Cora’s role in the Astros scandal?
Red Sox manager Alex Cora was the Astros' bench coach for the 2017 season and was a key player in the team's sign-stealing scandal, according to the league.
Cora's name is mentioned 11 times in the nine-page report released by the league Monday.
“Cora was involved in developing both the banging scheme and utilizing the replay review room to decode and transmit signs,” the report says. “Cora participated in both schemes, and through his active participation, implicitly condoned the players’ conduct.”
The commissioner said he would wait until the end of the investigation into the Red Sox to levy a penalty for Cora.
Former Astros GM blames Cora
Shortly after his dismissal, Luhnow released a statement denying his involvement, seeming to place blame on Cora.
What are the Red Sox accused of?
The league said last week it would investigate allegations the Red Sox illegally used their video replay room to steal signs between opposing pitchers and catchers during their 2018 World Series championship season.
The Athletic cited three anonymous sources it said were with the Red Sox during the 2018 season who said some players visited the replay room during games to get information on sign sequences.
Those sources told The Athletic that the Red Sox weren't able to do it during the postseason because of in-person monitors used by MLB in those games.
It remained to be seen what Cora’s punishment could be, until Tuesday evening when the Red Sox issued a statement on behalf of Principal Owner John Henry, Chairman Tom Werner, CEO Sam Kennedy and Cora himself. The team announced they parted ways with Cora, saying the decision was mutual.
"Given the findings and the Commissioner's ruling, we collectively decided that it would not be possible for Alex to effectively lead the club going forward and we mutually agreed to part ways," read a statement from Henry.