MLB Hits Astros With Unprecedented Penalties for 2017 Sign-Stealing Scandal

Houston's penalties include suspensions, lost draft picks and a $5 million fine 

MLB Hits Astros With Unprecedented Penalties for 2017 Sign-Stealing Scandal
Manager AJ Hinch talks with general manager Jeff Luhnow, of the Houston Astros. (Bob Levey/Getty)
Getty Images
By Evan Bleier / January 13, 2020 2:36 pm

As first reported by Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic, Major League Baseball has thrown the book at the Houston Astros following an investigation into the illegal sign-stealing system the team used during their run to the World Series in 2017.

Confirmed by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has handed down a one-year suspension for Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow, a one-year suspension for manager A.J. Hinch and hit the team with a $5 million fine, the maximum allowed under MLB’s constitution. (The suspensions are technically slightly less than a year as they begin today and end the day after the 2020 World Series.)

Additionally, the Astros will be forced to forfeit their first- and second-round draft picks in both 2020 and 2021.

Though he was already fired by the team for taunting a group of female reporters after Game 6 of the American League Championship Series about alleged domestic abuser Roberto Osuna being on the team’s roster, former Astros assistant GM Brandon Taubman was also placed on baseball’s ineligible list.

No players were disciplined in the matter, as Manfred and MLB instead chose to issue penalties to individuals in positions of authority. Current Mets manager Carlos Beltran was part of the scandal, but he was a player at the time and thus avoided a suspension.

“The unprecedented penalties are Manfred’s response to the damage the Astros inflicted on the sport’s integrity, and should serve as a powerful deterrent to any team that engages in such conduct in the future,” according to The Athletic.

Though he has yet to face any discipline, former Houston bench coach and current Red Sox manager Alex Cora will almost surely be suspended, as he’s been described as the “mastermind” of the team’s sign-stealing scheme.

MLB is still completing an investigation of the Red Sox for separate sign-stealing allegations that occurred while Cora was the team’s manager in 2018, when Boston won the World Series.

According to Passan, discipline for Red Sox manager Alex Cora is coming and it “is going to be harsh.” Passan went as far as to suggest Cora could be suspended for “far” longer than Luhnow and Hinch due to his “apparent culpability.”

Update: According to Ken Rosenthal, the Astros have fired Luhnow and Hinch.

Given what happened with Luhnow and Hinch, it’s fair to wonder if Cora may be done in Boston after two seasons managing the BoSox.

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