Nationals

Quick Links

Report: Nationals were tipped off about Astros' cheating by Dodgers, Cora

Report: Nationals were tipped off about Astros' cheating by Dodgers, Cora

The 2019-2020 Major League Baseball offseason has been dominated by the Astros sign-stealing scandal, tainting any accomplishment the Houston ballclub has achieved over the past few seasons.

On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported a new wrinkle to the entire situation: The Nationals were directly informed by outside sources about the Astros' cheating tendencies and were prepared for them prior to the 2019 World Series.

According to the report, Houston's sign-stealing tactic was well known throughout baseball.

RELATED: FIVE STORYLINES TO WATCH DURING NATIONALS SPRING TRAINING

“The whole industry knows they’ve been cheating their a---- off for three or four years," an anonymous executive from a team that faced Houston in the playoffs told the Washington Post. "Everybody knew it."

Nationals second baseman Brian Dozier also played a significant part in Washington's decoding of Houston's tactics. Dozier was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018, a squad that retained many of its players from the 2017 roster that lost to Houston in the World Series that season.

Several members of the Dodgers reached out to Dozier ahead of the 2019 World Series to warn him about Houston's sign-stealing tendencies, according to the report.

Alex Cora, the Astros bench coach in 2017 and Red Sox manager for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, also played a role. Nationals manager Dave Martinez reached out to Cora ahead of the World Series, and the two spoke about what to expect, according to the Post report.

Cora was subsequently fired by the Red Sox this offseason due to the role he played during his time in Houston in 2017.

After gathering all the information from many sources, Washington came up with its own complex sign system. Pitchers had five different sign rotations, according to the Post report, and the Nationals catchers each wore a wristband on their arm to remember, similar to a quarterback wearing a wristband with the plays on it.

The system worked, as Washington won all four games in Houston, winning the World Series for the first time in history.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Remembering the roller coaster of emotions that was Bryce Harper's return to DC

Remembering the roller coaster of emotions that was Bryce Harper's return to DC

Over the course of his seven-year stint in the nation’s capital, Bryce Harper stepped to the plate 1,994 times at the Nationals’ home ballpark. The D.C. faithful cheered him on each time, hoping the at-bat they were about to see was going to produce something special.

That 1,995th time, however, was different. When Harper arrived at Nationals Park on April 2, 2019, he was no longer the face of their franchise. He was the $330 million prized offseason addition of the Philadelphia Phillies, an NL East rival looking to climb back into contention following a lengthy rebuild.

Harper stepped to the plate in the top of the first faced the with the challenge of batting against former teammate and three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer. It was unclear what to expect of a Nationals Park crowd that included a throng of Phillies fans in center field, but there was no confusion as to whether Harper was treated to jeers or cheers when his name was called.

The former NL MVP worked the count to 2-2 against Scherzer before striking out swinging on a changeup to electrify the Nationals Park crowd.

Other than another Harper strikeout, however, there would be little else that Nationals fans would cheer about that evening. The Phillies broke open a 5-0 lead against Washington’s bullpen before Harper hit an RBI single for his first career hit against the Nationals.

The home team would put two runs on the board to get within striking distance, but Harper had the last laugh that night after he put the game away with a 458-foot homer off Jeremy Hellickson before taking the time to toss a spinning bat flip at the Nationals’ home dugout.

Of course, the Nationals were really the ones who had the last laugh after they eliminated the Phillies from playoff contention with a five-game sweep in September before making a miracle run to their first World Series win in franchise history.

As for the Phillies, well, they have 12 more years with Harper to try and top that.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

MLB not extending suspensions for former Astros A.J. Hinch, Jeff Luhnow is in line with past moves

MLB not extending suspensions for former Astros A.J. Hinch, Jeff Luhnow is in line with past moves

The baseball season’s delay postponed games as well as booing.

Houston was bracing for a grouse-filled season as baseball’s top enemy. The title is usually reserved for the brash, arrogant or well-off (meaning the Yankees). Instead, the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal flipped them from model franchise to convicted cheaters. They would be the target of universal vitriol outside of Minute Maid Park. The level of booing would only vary based on location.

Former Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch would be forced to watch the anger-filled tour from afar. Major League Baseball suspended both for a year following its investigation into the organization’s sign-stealing scheme. The duo’s season was over before everyone else’s was delayed.

Thursday, ESPN reported those year-long suspensions would not be bumped until next season -- no matter length of delay this year. Luhnow and Hinch are off the league’s hook following the 2020 World Series. If there is no such event, they will be done regardless. This makes sense.

Why? It’s generally understandable. Baseball also had little choice.

When the Major League Baseball Players Association agreed to a deal with MLB in order to set baseline parameters for what would come in a shortened season, service time was the paramount issue. Players wanted their clocks to run. Nothing matters more to their finances. Juan Soto would gain another year toward becoming a future free agent. Moving the young players up in baseball’s drawn-out contractual process was crucial. But, much of this hinged on a single player: Mookie Betts.

Betts was traded in the offseason from Boston to Los Angeles because the Red Sox decided they did not want to pay one of the game’s great talents now or after the 2020 season, when he can become a free agent. Betts can be an unrestricted, 28-year-old, former-MVP free agent this winter. If he wasn’t allowed into free agency via his clock moving, not only would he personally be damaged, but the Dodgers may have received a year-plus of his work when they otherwise wouldn’t.

So, the players demanded their service time numbers move with or without a season. Their give was to prorate their salaries. That pushed everything into motion for the agreement.

It also means Luhnow and Hinch can’t suddenly receive disparate treatment. The season is going to be treated as if it exists, even if it does not. That idea extends to everyone, even the suspended cheaters.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: