Red Sox nation is breathing easier today ... MLB just released its findings from its probe into cheating allegations -- and Boston's coming away with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
The MLB found the Sox DID violate sign-stealing rules and regulations ... but commissioner Rob Manfred says the rule-breaking was minor and handed down minimal punishment.
Here's the deal ... Manfred says Red Sox staffer J.T. Watkins was officially responsible for LEGALLY decoding opponents' signs -- but took it too far at points during the 2018 season.
Manfred says Watkins ILLEGALLY used in-game live footage to help him with his sign-decoding assignments ... unacceptably gaining an advantage in getting opposing catchers' signs.
It should be noted Manfred says Watkins DENIED the allegations.
Manfred claims based on his interviews with current and former players ... the scope of the illegal activity was small -- saying Watkins' use of the in-game video was only episodic and even then, only useful when the Sox had runners on second base.
But, Manfred laid a small hammer down Wednesday nonetheless ... announcing Watkins is suspended without pay for all of 2020. Manfred also prohibited the guy from serving as a replay room operator for 2021.
Manfred also took a 2nd round pick away from Boston in this year's MLB draft ... but said no other Red Sox players or personnel would be disciplined.
It's a big breath of fresh air for Boston ... after the Houston Astros were caught and heavily punished for their sign-stealing scandal -- many in Beantown hoped to avoid a similar fate.
Of course, Red Sox manager Alex Cora was eventually canned for his role as a bench coach in the Astros' scandal ... but Manfred says in his report Cora was NOT complicit in the Sox's scheme.
"I do not find that anyone was aware of or should have been aware of Watkins’s conduct," Manfred said. "The Club’s front office took more than reasonable steps to ensure that its employees, including Watkins, adhered to the rules."