Dodgers hire former Red Sox employee with ties to 2018 cheating scandal
The Los Angeles Dodgers usually dominate headlines during the offseason with their big-name player acquisitions.
This winter the team was relatively quiet, outside of one notable addition to the coaching staff. Los Angeles hired JT Watkins, who was employed by the Boston Red Sox during the franchise’s controversial 2018 season.
Watkins, a former Red Sox video replay coordinator, was suspended for the 2020 season for his role in illegal sign stealing. He later returned to the organization as a scout.
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Before and after games, Watkins was responsible for decoding the opposing team’s signs. Rules did permit that. But he also had access to live game feeds to “supplement or update” his work, the commissioner’s office confirmed. The act of using in-game video to decipher signs crossed into the illegal range.
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Watkins would then pass along the information to the Red Sox dugout.
The commissioner’s office ultimately ruled that the illegal sign-stealing methods were only used during the 2018 regular season and not in the playoffs.
The Red Sox beat the Dodgers in the 2018 world series,
The investigation also concluded there was insufficient evidence to show the team was involved in cheating during the 2019 regular season. Watkins was the only Red Sox employee who received punishment for sign stealing.
Boston only communicated the stolen signs to runners who were on second base. The runners would then steal the catcher’s sign and give a signal to the batter about the type of pitch about to be thrown.
“The information was only relevant when the Red Sox had a runner on second base,” MLB officials ruled.
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Mookie Bettsnamed the 2018 American League MVP when he was with the Red Sox, recommended the Dodgers hire Watkins.
Betts was teammates with Watkins in the minor leagues. In the book, “Winning Fixes Everything,” Betts shared how some Red Sox players gave Watkins money during his unpaid suspension.
“We all chipped in because he did so much for us,” Betts said. “The perception is, ‘Oh, we gave him money because …’ No. He’s very good at his job. He was the one up at 3 o’clock in the morning, scouting, making sure of everything we needed to do. .”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he believes Watkins being on the staff gives the team an advantage.
“I think it’s just to give us whatever competitive advantage that we can get on the preparation side, the potential opposition pitchers, tendencies and also work with our hitting guys closely,” Roberts said.
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The Dodgers won a major league-best 111 games last season but lost to the Padres in the NLDS.