MLB suspends Cora through '20 postseason

April 23rd, 2020

BOSTON -- After weeks of uncertainty, Alex Cora now knows that he will be eligible to manage again in 2021.

Commissioner Rob Manfred announced on Wednesday that Cora “will be suspended through the conclusion of the 2020 postseason for his conduct as bench coach for the Houston Astros in 2017.”

Cora managed the Red Sox to a World Series championship his first season at the helm in 2018.

The Red Sox and Cora decided it was best to mutually part ways in January due to the manager’s heavy involvement in the Astros’ sign-stealing operation.

When the results of the Astros sign-stealing investigation were announced on Jan. 13, Manfred said at the time he was withholding discipline on Cora until he completed his sign-stealing investigation into the 2018 Red Sox.

Manfred issued results of that investigation on Wednesday and didn’t find Cora had committed any wrongdoing with Boston.

Cora released the following statement through ESPN on Wednesday night:

“I am relieved that these MLB investigations are concluded and that Commissioner Manfred has released his finding that I did not violate any MLB rules as a member of the Red Sox organization in 2018 or 2019. I am grateful for the Commissioner’s thoughtful and thorough investigation relating to my conduct as Red Sox manager. I also take full responsibility for the role I played, along with others, in the Astros’ violations of MLB rules in 2017. The collective conduct of the Astros’ organization in 2017 was unacceptable, and I respect and accept the Commissioner’s discipline for my past actions.

“I would like to thank my family, friends and the Red Sox organization for their support throughout these investigations.

“Finally, on a much more serious subject, my thoughts and prayers go out to all of the first responders, health-care professionals, essential workers and all of the families who have lost a loved one to COVID-19. We all need to help each other during this difficult time.”

The Red Sox said that the events of Wednesday didn’t change anything about their separation with Cora that was established in January.

“At the time that we parted ways with Alex we were clear that that was a result of his role and what happened with the Astros and everything the investigation over there revealed,” said Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom on Wednesday. “It had nothing to do with what may or may not have occurred in Boston and that’s still the case. All the reasons we parted ways then are still the case.”

In February, the Red Sox named Ron Roenicke the interim manager. The interim tag was lifted on Wednesday, and Roenicke will work on a one-year deal that takes him through the end of the 2020 season.

Though there is bound to be speculation that Cora could one day return as manager of the Red Sox, the club declined to say whether that might be possible.

“We all have great admiration and respect for Alex,” said Red Sox president/CEO Sam Kennedy. “But he had come to the conclusion, as did we, that we needed to part ways given the conduct in Houston, and nothing has changed on that front.”

Does Kennedy think that Cora deserves a chance to manage again in the Major Leagues at some point?

“I do, that’s my personal feeling,” said Kennedy. “He does need to go through a rehabilitation process, as you said. What he did was wrong. He acknowledged that to us and apologized to us for that. But I’m a big believer in second chances so we all wish him well.”

As for the investigation results that were released on Wednesday, J.T. Watkins, the Red Sox video system operator, was suspended for the 2020 season and is prohibited from serving as replay room operator in 2021. Boston was also docked a second-round Draft selection in 2020.

“I do not find that then-manager Alex Cora, the Red Sox coaching staff, the Red Sox front office, or most of the players on the 2018 Red Sox knew or should have known that Watkins was utilizing in-game video to update the information that he had learned from his pregame analysis,” wrote Manfred. “Communication of these violations was episodic and isolated to Watkins and a limited number of Red Sox players only.”

Manfred also added: “While I will not impose additional discipline on Cora as a result of the conduct engaged in by Watkins (because I do not find that he was aware of it), I do note that Cora did not effectively communicate to Red Sox players the sign-stealing rules that were in place for the 2018 season.”