The Red Sox quietly welcomed another cheater back into their organization this week.
Former video replay coordinator J.T. Watkins, who was suspended last season after MLB said he illegally utilized game feeds to help players steal opposing teams’ signs during a few games in 2018, is returning to the team as a member of the professional scouting staff, according to the Boston Globe.
Watkins’ return was not met with the same fanfare as the rehiring of manager Alex Cora, who was reintroduced Tuesday after serving a one-year suspension issued by the league for playing a key role in the Astros’ electronic sign-stealing scandal in 2017.
Cora was found by MLB to be the ringleader of the Astros cheating operation that rocked the sport last offseason. Though Cora was manager of the Red Sox during the 2018 championship season, he did not face additional punishment from commissioner Rob Manfred for Boston’s transgressions.
Instead all the blame fell on Watkins, the 31-year-old who spent parts of three seasons as a catcher and first baseman in the Red Sox farm system before being hired to break down video of opponents before games.
Watkins denied the allegations but was suspended nonetheless and banned from serving as a replay-room operator through 2021.
The Red Sox were also docked a second-round pick as part of the punishment.
During its investigation of the Red Sox, the league also determined that Watkins was a “key participant” in the infamous Apple Watch scandal a year earlier, “when the Red Sox admitted to using a smartwatch to communicate opposing Clubs’ decoded signs from the replay room to the dugout,” including during a game against the Yankees.