ORLANDO, Fla. — The bell tolls wicked hahd for the 2018 Red Sox.

As he wrapped up the Major League Baseball owners’ meeting on Thursday, commissioner Rob Manfred declared that he hoped to release imminently his office’s findings on allegations that the ’18 Sawx, who won 108 regular-season games and proceeded to win the World Series, illegally stole opponents’ signs via electronic means.

“I’m hopeful that I can get Boston done before the camps open,” Manfred said. “I’d like to have this over. Investigations are funny. You think you know what the timeline is, but that’s a day-to-day prediction.”

Boston’s first pitchers-and-catchers workout is scheduled for Wednesday in Fort Myers.

The commissioner confirmed a report by Duke Castiglione of WCVB-TV in Boston, that Red Sox players have been granted immunity, just as occurred with Manfred’s recently completed investigation of the 2017 Astros. That means that no players, again, will be disciplined. Alex Cora, who managed Boston to the title in his first year on the job, is sure to be penalized heavily, as Manfred already implicated him for his leading role (while he worked as Houston’s bench coach) in the ’17 Astros scheme. Cora and the Red Sox parted ways on Jan. 14, the day after Manfred released his report on the Astros.

“We have the right to discipline players right now [for stealing signs]. I’m absolutely convinced of that fact,” Manfred said. “We made a decision in the Houston investigation that, in order for us to get the facts that we needed, somebody had to get immunity. That is not a novel thought. It happens all the time in law enforcement when, quite frankly, the police have a lot more power than we do over people. I see that as a specific statement we made in the context of that investigation in order to help us get to the bottom of what went on.

Red Sox
Alex Cora and Rob Manfred

“We thought carefully about who we were going to immunize. And at the end of the day, we felt that, consistent with what I said in the [Astros] decision, that management people — the GM, the field managers — should be most responsible for enforcing the rules.”

Manfred suspended Astros president of baseball operations Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch for a year each, and Houston owner Jim Crane — who didn’t attend these meetings, generating much chatter among his fellow lords of the manor — immediately fired both men.

Since the Astros relied on real-time video to cheat and the Red Sox investigation centers on the same alleged crime, Manfred said, “I think you should assume that before the season starts, we will have new guidelines with respect to the use of video equipment.”

The commissioner added, “I think we have too much video available in real time right now.” Rules could limit who is allowed in the video room that originally came to be for instant-replay review, or what can be watched.

In other news:

Regarding the news that the banned-for-life Pete Rose has applied for reinstatement in light of no 2017 Astros players being punished for stealing signs, Manfred said, “I haven’t read the application for reinstatement. For I’m sure reasons that have more to do with you folks than me, they decided to send it during the owners’ meeting. So I haven’t even had a chance to read it. So I can’t really give you a reaction.”

The commissioner added: “I think that the process that baseball’s generally adhered to is, if you’re on that [banned] list, you have the right periodically to apply for reinstatement. I got another application. I’ll deal with it.”


As MLB’s testy negotiations with Minor League Baseball continue, with their agreement set to expire at year’s end, Manfred didn’t back down on his proposal to eliminate 42 teams from affiliated ball. To the contrary, four members of baseball’s Labor Policy Committee — Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio, Rangers managing partner Ray Davis, Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler and Rockies CEO Dick Monfort — joined Manfred in the news conference as a show of solidarity.

“There is unanimous support among the owners for the objectives and the strategy that we’re pursuing with respect to this negotiation in particular,” Manfred said. “Our objectives are modernizing minor league baseball, improving the working conditions for the players who play there. I’m hopeful that the minor league negotiating committee is able to get a consensus among its constituents, a consensus that’s strong enough that they can make us, finally, a written proposal that’s supported by their members.”