UPDATE: The Astros have fired Hinch and Luhnow.
Jim Crane has fired AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) January 13, 2020
Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow have been suspended for one-year following the MLB’s investigation of the organization’s sign-stealing during home games in 2017. The league also took away the club’s first- and second-round draft picks for both 2020 and ’21, fined them the maximum $5 million and placed former Astros assistant GM Brandon Taubman on baseball’s ineligible list, as reported by Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic.
The Athletic reported on the Astros sign stealing last November, linking Alex Cora, the team’s bench coach as the brains behind the operation. The team routed the centerfield camera to a screen inside the tunnel leading to their clubhouse, deciphered the signs and then banged on garbage cans to alert the hitters.
No players will face any punishment; instead, the team’s decision makers were the hardest hit. The league appears to have hit the Astros hard due to the team using technology and bypassing the field of play. Players have stolen signs for as long as baseball has been going on, but the fact that it wasn’t a player on the field stealing signs and instead, a concerted effort by the team to consistently have an edge using outside technology that likely made their punishment severe.
The fact that no players were suspended has kept the Astros odds to win the World Series the same as they were before they were hit with these penalties by commissioner Rob Manfred.
We have yet to see results of MLB’s investigation of Alex Cora and the Red Sox, but we know they have Cora pinned down due to him masterminding the Astros sign-stealing operation, so there is little doubt he will also face a suspension. We could also see more penalties handed down to Boston depending on the extent of their sign-stealing.
As technology continues to get more integrated into stadiums, this type of advantage was bound to flourish, so major league baseball is trying to curb its proliferation with these penalties. There’s little doubt that a team could continue to steal signs moving forward, but it is hard to keep a secret when players and personnel move from team to team like they do in baseball.