The Los Angeles Dodgers have remained quiet as they are nearing the MLB luxury tax threshold and need to decide on the future of Trevor Bauer with the team.
They have until Friday to make their decision, and that is surely at the forefront of roster planning and discussions among the front office and ownership group. However, they did make an addition to their coaching staff, and one that comes with some controversy of his own.
The Dodgers reportedly hired J.T. Watkins to their staff from the Boston Red Sox to help their hitters with game planning, according to Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal:
J.T. Watkins, suspended by MLB in 2020 for his involvement in video sign-stealing scandal, has left Red Sox to take position w/ the Dodgers. Watkins will help LA with its hitting game planning. His hiring came with strong recommendations from both J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts.
— Sean McAdam (@Sean_McAdam) January 3, 2023
Watkins traveled with the Red Sox from 2017 to 2019, working on the team’s video staff with advance scouting manager Steve Langone and video coordinator Billy Broadbent.
However, Watkins was suspended without pay in 2020 by MLB for his role in the Red Sox’s sign-stealing scandal that took place during their championship season in 2018, when they defeated the Dodgers in the World Series.
MLB’s investigation found that Watkins used in-game video to relay opponent’s signs to players while he was working for the club as a video staffer. The Red Sox hired him back as a professional scout after the suspension ended.
Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said the decision to re-hire Watkins was based on numerous factors, most notably because of the tough position Watkins was put in during the scandal as a lower-level staffer. Bloom also noted Watkins was a good teammate while he was in the Red Sox Minor League system and he is someone who treats people well.
In Boston, Watkins also developed a close relationship with Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, and according to McAdam, they both gave the Dodgers front office recommendations to hire him.
J.T. Watkins playing career
Watkins, 33, was born in Tuscaloosa, Ala., but attended West Point rather than his hometown University of Alabama. A catcher and first baseman, Watkins played two seasons for Army, hitting .307/.368/.417 with seven home runs.
He was originally selected in the 10th round by the Red Sox in the 2012 MLB Draft, and in three Minor league seasons, batted .184/.231/.235. Watkins retired after the 2016 season.
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