The Los Angeles Dodgers usually dominate the headlines during the offseason with their big-name player acquisitions.
This winter the team was relatively quiet apart from a notable addition to the coaching staff. Los Angeles hired JT Watkins, who was an employee of 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 the games, Watkins was in charge of deciphering the signs of the opposing team. The rules allowed that. But he also had access to live game broadcasts to «supplement or update» his work, the commissioner’s office confirmed. The act of using in-game videos to decipher signals crossed the illegal range.
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Watkins would then pass 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 that there was insufficient evidence to prove the team was involved in cheating during the 2019 regular season. Watkins was the only Red Sox employee to receive a penalty for sign stealing.
Boston only communicated the stolen signals to runners on second base. The runners would then steal the catcher’s signal and signal the batter as to the type of pitch he was about to throw.
«The information was only relevant when the Red Sox had a runner on second base,» MLB officials ruled.
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Mookie Betts, named the 2018 American League MVP when he was with the Red Sox, recommended the Dodgers sign Watkins.
Betts was a teammate of 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 contributed because he did a lot 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 in the morning, scouting, making sure everything we had to do «. .»
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he believes Watkins’ presence on the staff gives the team an advantage.
«I think it’s just to give us whatever competitive advantage we can get on the preparation side, potential opposition pitchers, trends and also working closely with our hitters,» 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.