MLB cheating scandals: How should Alex Cora be punished by the league after losing job as Red Sox manager?

Alex Cora is no longer the manager of the Boston Red Sox. Cora, who's in the middle of sign-stealing scandals with two separate teams, lost his job Tuesday night as the Red Sox announced a mutual split with the skipper who led them to the 2018 World Series title. 

Cora was the second manager to lose his job in as many days. On Monday, Major League Baseball handed out punishments stemming from the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal. Chief among them were season-long suspensions for now-former GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch -- who were both subsequently fired.

Cora may never manage again in the majors, but there are still two questions worth asking as we move forward: what should and what will Cora's punishment be? We decided to offer our thoughts as a staff. 

How should Cora be punished?

R.J. Anderson: It's hard to say what the punishment "should be" because we lack precedent. The obvious answer is a season-long suspension, the same as Hinch and Luhnow. A more aggressive suggestion is a lifetime banishment on the grounds that Cora's improper behavior may have impacted two of the past three World Series. Major League Baseball cannot afford to have people questioning the integrity of games, not with legalized gambling coming into the fold. Banning Cora would send that message. (Do note: Manfred probably could've justified banning and/or others involved here, too, since Cora wasn't some lone actor.)

Mike Axisa: I think it should be very significant, with a lifetime ban on the table. Cora was named 11 times in Manfred's report -- he was the only non-player implicated in the sign-stealing scheme -- and, taking a step back and look at the big picture, two of the last three World Series winners either have been or will be punished for cheating. Cora was in a position of power with both teams. That looks real bad. We already know he played a significant role in Houston's scheme. Manfred's report told us that. Chances are he will implicated in Boston's scheme too, so he's a repeat offender with multiple teams. A one-year suspension and getting fired a la A.J. Hinch feels like Cora's best-case scenario right now.

Matt Snyder: Yeah, I think it seems easy to say that Cora should get at least a two-year suspension. The obvious answer is he was due one year from the Astros' scandal and then took acted similarly with the Red Sox. So one year for each. Now, it's probably reasonable to argue there should be a multiplier effect, especially if the Red Sox investigation finds that they weren't doing anything until Cora arrived. If that's the case, I think there should be a multiplier and I'd say his suspension should be at least 2 1/2 years and probably even three. 

Dayn Perry: To repeat what everyone else has said, this is worse than Hinch's passive role. Manfred's report says Cora was involved in coming up with and executing the system in Houston. That alone warrants a stiffer penalty than what Hinch received. Then he goes to Boston and implements a cheating scheme -- albeit one that's somewhat more "old school" than the trash-banging thing -- and does after MLB has expressly told teams that the video replay room is not to be used for sign-stealing. In essence, Cora was a central party to two cheating scandals (assuming he was aware of what was going on in Boston), and the latter one occurred after all teams were warned by the league. If Cora had a material role in what the Red Sox were doing in 2018, which seems highly likely, then he should be hammered. A lifetime ban should be in the range of possibilities. I'd say five years, which is probably tantamount to a lifetime ban. 

Katherine Acquavella: Rob Manfred's investigation determined that Cora was heavily involved in the Astros sign-stealing scheme in 2017; he was found to have come up with the entire cheating scheme and found to have helped players execute the system in Houston. If Cora was an active developer and participant in the cheating scandal with the Astros, then it can be assumed that Cora then brought those same elements of sign-stealing to the Red Sox when he joined the club as a first-year manager in 2018. His punishment should be match the severity his involvement in these cheating scandals, and result in a two- or three-year suspension from the league. When all is said and done, the illegal use of technology to steal signs now forever taints the 2017 and 2018 World Series -- and Cora's legacy as a coach.

How will Cora be punished?

R.J. Anderson: I would assume Cora's punishment will be harsher than either Luhnow's or Hinch's, and it wouldn't shock me if he was indeed suspended indefinitely. He was named as one of the ringleaders in a way they weren't, after all. Rob Manfred has shown he's willing to deploy that option if he deems it necessary, and I suspect he feels the need to make an example out of someone here, with that someone being Cora. 

Mike Axisa: My guess is Cora gets slapped with a two-year suspension by Manfred. The Astros already set a precedent firing Hinch and Boston would have looked lenient if they didn't dismiss Cora. A two-year suspension in addition to being fired by the team is what I think will happen. I do wonder whether Manfred's discipline with include something beyond a suspension, like Cora being ineligible to be employed as uniformed personnel once his suspension ends.

Matt Snyder: I'll echo above and say it's going to be two years. It's the easy path and this is unprecedented ground. Would Manfred really go crazy and go further than the two years? Sure, it's possible. I just think we're in the early stages here and two years will be the penalty. 

Dayn Perry: I think it's going to be at least three years for reasons laid out above. I can also see a lifetime ban or MLB at least stipulating that Cora can never work as uniformed personnel at the MLB level. I'll say three years.

Katherine Acquavella: I'm predicting that Manfred will hand Cora a two-year suspension. If Cora is found as culpable as he appears to be in this report on the Astros, it's a given that things will look worse when the investigation is completed into the 2018 Red Sox. If the league was only investigating Houston's sign-stealing, then maybe Cora could have skated by without major consequences from the league -- or at least the same one given to Hinch and Luhnow. However, Cora was found to be an active and direct participant in the Astros scheme and then appears to have perpetrated wrongdoing as Boston's manager. He's destined to get hit hard by Manfred. 

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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