Astros' 2020 World Series odds take hit in aftermath of cheating scandal

The Houston Astros are still one of the favorites to win the 2020 World Series, just not the favorite. Houston's World Series odds are now sitting at 7/1 after Major League Baseball punished the franchise for electronically stealing signs in the 2017 season. Astros manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow were suspended and then fired, but no players were penalized by the league.

In the wake of the scandal and MLB sanctions, the Astros' World Series odds (as of Jan. 13 according to Westgate) now sit behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (6/1) and New York Yankees (3/1). The Astros opened as favorites to win it all in 2020 with 5/1 odds.

During the league's investigation into the Astros, players who cooperated with the investigation were told they can expect leniency when it came time to hand down discipline. The league interviewed 68 witnesses, including 23 current and former Astros players. Here's what commissioner Rob Manfred wrote in the report the following regarding his decision to not hand out suspensions to players:

"I will not assess discipline against 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. 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."

According to the league's report, the sign-stealing scheme was described as having been "player-driven," with the exception of current Red Sox manager and former Astros bench coach Alex Cora. During the Red Sox 2018 championship season, the club allegedly used the video replay room to steal opponents signs, and a harsh punishment for Cora is expected to be announced soon. The Red Sox's 2020 World Series odds have also taken a hit, even though no punishment has been announced as of yet. For next season, Boston saw its odds rise from 12/1 in October to 20/1 now -- currently the seventh-best odds to take home next season's championship.

Last season, the Astros were one game away from winning their second World Series title in three years, before the Washington Nationals won two straight games in Houston to clinch the 2019 title. Houston's rotation will be without Gerrit Cole next season, as he joined the Yankees via free agency, but the club will bring back Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke to lead the pitching staff. The club's 2020 lineup is also expected to look almost identical to last season's elite group of hitters. The club will not have the same continuity at manager, however.

Katherine Acquavella joined CBS Sports in 2018. Her work has appeared in Yankees Magazine and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's Memories and Dreams magazine. She is a graduate of St. John's... Full Bio

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