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Sign-stealing investigation nearing an end?

The axe that Astros’ management has been looking up at for three months may be ready to fall.

After interviewing 60 witnesses and scouring through 76,000 emails in what Rob Manfred called “the most thorough investigation the commissioner’s office has ever undertaken,” Jeff Passan is reporting the MLB investigation is in the stretch run. The results are likely to be released in the next two weeks.

This news comes the same day that The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich are reporting on the 2018 Red Sox allegedly using the video replay room to provide pitch sequences to their hitters. Alex Cora was also the Astros bench coach during the 2017 season before managing the Red Sox to the 2018 championship. Andrew Rotondi reports on that story here.

Passan reports that those subject to punishment are likely front-office staff and on-field coaches but not players. Witnesses have admitted to misconduct and decisions are now regarding, “whom to discipline and how harshly to do so.”

Past warnings from Manfred seem to indicate that the sanctions will be severe. MLB was put on notice in 2017 when the Red Sox were using Apple Watches in the dugout, and the Yankees improperly used a dugout phone. He used the incidents to warn, “…that future violations of this type will be subject to more serious sanctions, including the possible loss of draft picks.” That statement was meant to be a deterrent and was clearly unsuccessful.

When Mike Fiers decided to pull the curtain back in November, we had no idea where the path would lead. We appear much closer to finding out.