SPRINGFIELD -- The next shoe may not have officially dropped Saturday, but a toe was dipped into the water. For the first time, a member of the 2018 Red Sox flat-out said his team was innocent.
Up until J.D. Martinez stepped before the media at Winter Weekend there had been a series of coaches and players leaning on "it's an ongoing investigation" when asked about Major League Baseball's investigation into The Athletic's report that the Red Sox had illegally used their video system to help relay sign sequences during games. But Martinez took things to another level.
"I'm excited for the investigation to get over with, just so they can see there was nothing going on here," Martinez said.
When pressed on if he believed no wrongdoing would be found in the investigation he added, "I believe that, yes."
While Martinez's comments were on-the-record, out in front of cameras and microphones, multiple sources involved in the 2018 championship run have been echoing the same tone as the designated hitter/outfielder behind the scenes, suggesting that the Red Sox are innocent.
It might not be too much longer until we find out what's what.
One major league source said there is currently a belief that MLB's findings are trending to be released sometime in the first week of February.
"I was in there, so I saw straight up," Martinez said. "Everyone seems to forget that in 2016 and 2017, this was a really good team. They won 93 games those two years and then we just got better. Like I said, I'm excited for it. Really not allowed to comment on it, but we'll see what happens."
The caveat when it comes to a decision of innocence or guilt is that this investigation could involve the kind of gray area will lead to further debate. MLB could identify any transgressions -- even if they weren't as emboldened as what was mentioned in The Athletic -- and punish the Red Sox because the warning sent out after the organization was caught using Apple Watch technology to pass along signs in 2017. This would obviously lead to the kind of punishments that would still negatively brand the 2018 team.
Another complication when it comes to how the claims of cheating might impact the Red Sox going forward is in regards to their managerial search. Hiring any internal candidate who was involved with the 2018 team -- such as bench coach Ron Roenicke or third base coach Carlos Febles -- would be difficult if any penalties are applied. And even identifying outside candidates is an issue with the presumed need for MLB to vet even the most experienced/seemingly above-board managerial candidate.
Here is what some of the others Red Sox players and coaches said when asked about the investigation/chaos of the week:
Rafael Devers (when asked if team did anything wrong): "No. I don’t think so. We all worked hard last season and that’s something we know that we did.
Christian Vazquez: "I want to play baseball. I want to see my guys in spring training and get back to it. I don’t want to talk about what happened. I know it’s the reality. But it’s tough to make comments on that. I know our manager got fired, but it’s tough to answer those questions."
Ron Roenicke: "When you work as hard as we do at this job and you see a team that comes together like we did in '18, and I've never been with a team that good. I've been with a lot of good teams, but never that good. To see what we did through the whole season, and to have an allegation made that deters from that feeling of what we accomplished, it's hard. Your friends hear that. Your family hears that. And they question, like everybody else has. So to do something that good, and then have it maybe tarnished some, it's tough."
Tim Hyers (On the state of baseball): "I think it’s challenging for the players with all the information out there that a coach and a player has to decipher between before a game. I really think there’s a lot that goes on in preparing for every game so for players there’s a lot thrown out there on a coach. There’s a lot you have to be prepared for and I do see it from that angle. It’s a challenge. They want to be prepared and want to compete. Sometimes you intact so much information it can be challenging."
Jackie Bradley Jr.: "It's one of those things where you've just got to let it happen, let it play out, and we'll find out when you all find out. Your guess is as good as mine."
Carlos Febles: "It’s an ongoing investigation. We’re not allowed to comment about that at this point."
Nathan Eovaldi: "There’s nothing we can do about it. I’m just trying to focus on baseball and do that and kind of go from there. I feel like it’s going to pass and everything is going to be fine."