Astros fire manager, GM after MLB fines team $5M in sign-stealing scandal

GM, manager of Houston Astros fired, team fined $5M in scandal

Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were fired Monday after Major League Baseball announced it had suspended both men without pay for one year. The suspensions were part of a punishment meted out by MLB for the team’s involvement in a reported sign-stealing scandal during the 2017 season.

The Astros, who won the World Series in 2017, also was fined $5 million and was stripped of its first- and second-round draft picks for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Here are the latest updates:

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Update 11 p.m. EST Jan. 13: General manager Jeff Luhnow also has released a statement.

Update 7:15 p.m. EST Jan. 13: Hinch has released a statement.

Update 3:44 p.m. EST Jan. 13: At a news conference Monday, Astros owner Jim Crane called it a “very difficult day” for the franchise.

“MLB did a very thorough investigation and the Astros fully cooperated and we accept their decisions and findings and penalties,” Crane said. “I have higher standards for the city and the franchise."

Update 3:33 p.m. EST Jan. 13: Crane said he fired Hinch and Luhnow because he wanted to go beyond Commissioner Rob Manfred’s ruling, ESPN reported.

“We need to move forward with a clean slate,” Crane said.

Hinch, 45, has been the Astros’ manager since 2015. He went 481-329 with Houston and guided the team to three consecutive seasons of 100 or more wins in the regular season from 2017 to 2019. The Astros won 101 games in 2017 en route to winning a World Series title, and followed it up with 103- and 107-win seasons the next two seasons.

Hinch also managed the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009-2010, going 89-123.

Update 3:20 p.m. EST Jan. 13: Both Hinch and Luhnow were fired by Astros owner Jim Crane shortly after the suspensions were announced, The Associated Press said in a tweet.

Original report: Also included in the nine-page decision was the one-year suspension of former Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman, MLB.com reported.

“I find that the conduct of the Astros, and its senior baseball operations executives, merits significant discipline,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “I base this finding on the fact that the club’s senior baseball operations executives were given express notice in September 2017 that I would hold them accountable for violations of our policies covering sign stealing, and those individuals took no action to ensure that the club’s players and staff complied with those policies during the 2017 postseason and the 2018 regular season."

No players were disciplined, and former Astros bench coach Alex Cora -- now the manager of the Boston Red Sox -- could be forthcoming, Manfred said.

“I will withhold determining the appropriate level of discipline for Cora until after the DOI completes its investigation of the allegations that the Red Sox engaged in impermissible electronic sign-stealing in 2018 while Cora was the manager,” Manfred said in the statement.

The sign-stealing accusations were first made public by former Astros player Mike Fiers in a November article published in The Athletic, The New York Times reported.

According to the report, the Astros used a center-field camera at Minute Maid Park in Houston to steal signs from opposing catchers, the newspaper reported. The signs were then transmitted to a monitor in a replay room near the Astros’ dugout, and players would send the information to the batter by banging on a trash can.

Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, pictured, and manager A.J. Hinch were suspended for a year without pay.
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, pictured, and manager A.J. Hinch were suspended for a year without pay. (Patrick Semansky/Associated Press)