Hours after being suspended by Major League Baseball, Houston Astros Manager A. J. Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow were fired by Astros owner Jim Crane.
Earlier in the day, Hinch and Luhnow were both handed one-year suspensions by the MLB for their part in the Astros sign-stealing scandal throughout the 2017 season, according to a 10 page report from MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.
The investigation by the MLB’s Department of Investigation concluded that Alex Cora, then-Astros bench coach, would set up video cameras in the center field replay room designed for stealing signs, leading to Astros players watching live video feed of the pitching sign and communicate it to the Astros batter.
Shortly after the suspensions were given, Crane announced at a press conference that he had fired both Hinch and Luhnow.
"Today, I have made the decision to dismiss A. J. Hinch and Jeff Luhnow,” Crane said. “We need to move forward with a clean slate, and the Astros will become a stronger organization because of this today."
While Hinch and Luhnow were not directly involved in the process for stealing signs, both were responsible for allowing it to continue, said Crane.
“Neither one of them started this, but neither one of them did anything about it,” Crane said. “We will not have this happen again on my watch.”
Sources close to the Astros told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand that Joe Espada, who has been the Astros bench coach since the beginning of 2018, is expected to be named interim manager.
Source: Joe Espada expected to be named interim manager of the Astros during Hinch’s suspension. Espada has been Houston’s bench coach since the start of 2018.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 13, 2020
Luhnow began as general manager of the Astros in 2011 and helped acquire several key players for their 2017 World Series run, including drafting George Springer and Carlos Correa in consecutive drafts. Hinch became manager of the Astros in 2015, turning the Astros’ luck around with five consecutive winning seasons and two World Series appearances.
The accusations against the Astros were first made on Nov. 12, 2019, when former Astros player Mike Fiers publicly alleged in an article published by Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich Athletic that the Astros were stealing signs. The article detailed how prevalent the belief in teams sign stealing was and opened up public outcry from other MLB teams, including the New York Yankees, who lost the ALCS in 2017 to the Astros.
In addition to the suspensions for Hinch and Luhnow, the Astros were also fined $5 million, the maximum allowed under the MLB’s constitution, and will forfeit their first and second round picks for both the 2020 and 2021 MLB drafts. Former Assistant General Manager Brandon Taubman, who was fired on Oct. 24, was placed on the MLB’s ineligible list, effectively banning him from the league.
One person who awaits MLB punishment is Cora. According to a report by Rosenthal, Manfred is still debating how harshly Cora, now manager of the Boston Red Sox, should be punished for his role in the Astros’ cheating scandal. Additionally, Cora and the Red Sox are under their own investigation by the MLB for sign stealing during the 2018 season, leading to Red Sox fans calling for Cora to be fired as well.