The Houston Astros fired manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow Monday, after the pair were suspended by Major League Baseball for sign-stealing during the Astros' run to the 2017 World Series title.
Commissioner Rob Manfred strongly hinted that current Boston manager Alex Cora - the Astros bench coach in 2017 - will face equal or more severe punishment. Manfred said Cora developed the sign-stealing system used by the Astros. The Red Sox are under investigation for sign stealing in Cora's first season as manager in 2018, when Boston won the title.
There is no evidence Astros owner Jim Crane was aware of the conduct, Manfred said in a statement.
The investigation stems from a report in November in The Athletic, a sports news website, in which former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers -- who now pitches for Oakland -- said he warned his new teammates that at home games Houston used an outfield camera fixed on the opposing catcher to steal signs and relay the information to hitters.
The MLB investigation found that at the start of the 2017 season, employees in the Astros video replay room started using the live game feed from the center field camera to decode and transmit opposing teams' sign sequences to use when an Astros runner was on second base.
When the sequence was decoded, a player in the video replay room would act as a "runner" to pass along the information to the dugout, according to the findings.
A person in the dugout would notify players in the dugout or signal the sign sequence to a runner on second base, who would decipher the catcher's sign and signal, the investigation found.
On some occasions, employees in the replay review room communicated the sign sequence with text messages sent to a staff member on the bench with a smart phone -- or, in other instances, to a cell phone nearby, the investigation found.
The league's investigators interviewed 68 witnesses, including 23 current and former Astros players, and reviewed tens of thousands of emails, text messages, video clips and photographs, Manfred said.
The Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 World Series.