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.
“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.
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