After Major League Baseball announced its findings and punishment stemming from the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal, the dominoes started falling.
It started Monday, when MLB announced it had found that the Astros illegally created a system that decoded and communicated the opposing teams’ pitching signs during their 2017 championship season. As part of the punishment, commissioner Rob Manfred announced one-year suspensions for manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow. Later that day, Houston Astros owner and chairman Jim Crane fired them both.
On Tuesday, a key figure in the scandal, Alex Cora, who led the Red Sox to a World Series title in 2018 as manager and was the Astros’ bench coach in 2017, “mutually agreed to part ways” with Boston.
There is someone in Manfred’s report who is still employed: Carlos Beltran, who is entering his first season as manager of the New York Mets.
Beltran, 42, was named manager of the Mets on November 1, agreeing to terms on a three-year contract with a club option for a fourth year. The hiring makes Beltran, who played seven seasons with the Mets, the ninth person to both play for and manage the Mets. He had spent 2019 as a special adviser for the New York Yankees.
CNN has reached out to the Mets for comment on Beltran. In a previous report, the Mets told MLB.com there would be no comment.
Beltran declined wrongdoing in the sign-stealing scheme in a November story in The Athletic.
“We took a lot of pride studying pitchers in the computer — that is the only technology that I use and I understand,” Beltran said to The Athletic. “It was fun seeing guys get to the ballpark to look for little details.
“(In) the game of baseball, guys for years have given location and if the catchers get lazy and the pitcher doesn’t cover the signs from second base, of course players are going to take advantage.
“I don’t call that cheating. I call that using the small details to take advantage. I think baseball is doing a great job adding new technology to make sure the game is even for both teams.”
Beltran, the only Astros player named in Manfred’s report, was an outfielder and designated hitter for Houston in 2017. The mention of his name in the report was brief — on the second of nine pages.
“Approximately two months into the 2017 season, a group of players, including Carlos Beltran, discussed that the team could improve on decoding opposing teams’ signs and communicating the signs to the batter,” the commissioner wrote.
Manfred has said he would not discipline individual Astros players.
“I made the decision in September 2017 that I would hold a Club’s General Manager and Field Manager accountable for misconduct of this kind, and I will not depart from that decision,” Manfred wrote.
“Assessing discipline of players for this type of conduct is both difficult and impractical. It is difficult because virtually all of the Astros’ players had some involvement or knowledge of the scheme, and I am not in a position based on the investigative record to determine with any degree of certainty every player who should be held accountable, or their relative degree of culpability. It is impractical given the large number of players involved, and the fact that many of those players now play for other Clubs.”
It was Cora, the MLB report says, who arranged for a video room technician to install a monitor displaying the center field camera feed outside of the Astros’ dugout. The report says one or more players watched the live feed of the center field camera on the monitor, and after decoding the sign, a player would bang a nearby trash can with a bat or a massage gun to communicate the upcoming pitch type to the batter.
Using the trash can was, with the exception of Cora, player-driven and player-executed, according to the report.
Manfred said discipline for Cora will be decided following a separate investigation into the Red Sox. The Red Sox illegally used a video replay room during regular-season games to decipher the signs of opposing catchers, three unnamed sources who were with the franchise that year told The Athletic.
Beltran, who played for seven teams in his 20-year MLB career, retired after winning the World Series with the Astros in 2017. He was a nine-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove Award winner, two-time Silver Slugger Award winner and was named the 1999 American League Rookie of the Year.
In addition to the Luhnow and Hinch discipline, the Astros also must forfeit their regular first- and second-round selections in 2020 and 2021 drafts and pay a $5 million fine. Former assistant general manager Brandon Taubman, who was also named in the report, was fired in October for his postgame outburst aimed at female reporters following the team’s American League Championship Series victory.
Taubman will be ineligible to work as an employee or independent contractor for any MLB team for the upcoming season, Manfred said. He can apply for reinstatement after the 2020 World Series.