Astros manager, GM fired after MLB hands down year-long bans
By RONALD BLUM and KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) – Astros manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were fired Monday after the pair were suspended by Major League Baseball for the team’s sign-stealing during Houston’s run to the 2017 World Series title and during the 2018 season.
In the sport’s largest scandal since the Biogenesis drug suspensions in 2013, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the discipline Monday and strongly hinted that current Boston manager Alex Cora – the Astros bench coach in 2017 – will face equal or more severe punishment. Manfred said Cora developed the sign-stealing system used by the Astros. The Red Sox are under investigation for sign stealing in Cora’s first season as manager in 2018, when the Red Sox won the World Series.
Houston was fined $5 million for sign-stealing by the team during its run to the 2017 World Series title and during the 2018 season – the maximum allowed under the Major League Constitution. The Astros will forfeit their next two first- and second-round draft picks.
In addition, former Astros GM Brandon Taubman was suspended through the World Series for his conduct during last year’s AL Championship Series, when his profane remarks directed at female reporters led to his firing by Houston, which at first denied the incident and later apologized.
Manfred said owner Jim Crane was not aware of the sign stealing. An hour after MLB announced its decision, Crane opened a news conference by saying Hinch and Luhnow had been terminated.
“We need to move forward with a clean slate,” he said.
Here is the introduction from a statement on the penalties from MLB:
On November 12, 2019, former Houston Astros player Mike Fiers publicly alleged in an article published by Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic that the Astros had engaged in sign-stealing methods in 2017 that violated MLB’s rules. The allegations in the article created significant concern among many of our fans and other MLB Clubs regarding the adherence to our rules by those participating in our games, and the principles of sportsmanship and fair competition. As I have previously stated, I treat these allegations with the utmost seriousness, and I instructed our Department of Investigations (“DOI”) to conduct a thorough investigation. I believe transparency with our fans and our Clubs regarding what occurred is extremely important, and this report is my attempt to achieve that objective. At the outset, I also can say our investigation revealed absolutely no evidence that Jim Crane, the owner of the Astros, was aware of any of the conduct described in this report. Crane is extraordinarily troubled and upset by the conduct of members of his organization, fully supported my investigation, and provided unfettered access to any and all information requested.
The investigation was led by Bryan Seeley and Moira Weinberg of the DOI, who both have substantial experience investigating baseball operations matters. The investigation covered the period from 2016 through the present. During the investigation, the DOI interviewed 68 witnesses, including 23 current and former Astros players. Some witnesses were interviewed multiple times. The DOI also reviewed tens of thousands of emails, Slack communications, text messages, video clips, and photographs. The Astros fully cooperated with the investigation, producing all requested electronic communications and making all requested employees available for interviews. Upon request, certain Astros employees provided their cellular telephones to be imaged and searched. I afforded the Astros and their employees the opportunity to submit evidence relevant to this matter and present any arguments to me and my staff.
I write now to explain the findings of the investigation, and the basis for my decision to discipline the Astros and certain individuals.
To read the rest of the nine-page statement from MLB, click here.