Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow have been fired by the team on Monday after the two were suspended for a year by Major League Baseball for their involvement in cheating during the 2017 World Series and the 2018 season. Team owner and chairman Jim Crane announced the decision shortly after the suspension was handed down.
Along with the loss of Hinch and Luhnow, the Astros have been fined $5 million for sign-stealing, the maximum amount according to league rules. The team will also forfeit their first and second-round picks for the 2020 and 2021 draft.
"We need to move forward with a clean slate," Crane said during his press conference via the Associated Press.
League commissioner Rob Manfred said the Astros had a number of issues and it was due to the front office. However, he did say that Crane had no idea the team was cheating.
"It is very clear to me that the culture of the baseball operations department, manifesting itself in the way its employees are treated, its relations with other clubs, and its relations with the media and external stakeholders, has been very problematic," Manfred wrote in a nine-page statement. "At least in my view, the baseball operations department’s insular culture -- one that valued and rewarded results over other considerations, combined with a staff of individuals who often lacked direction or sufficient oversight, led, at least in part, to the Brandon Taubman incident, the club’s admittedly inappropriate and inaccurate response to that incident, and finally, to an environment that allowed the conduct described in this report to have occurred."
Manfred went on to say that Hinch was aware of what was going on, but he didn't tell Luhnow. The former Astros GM informed league officials he was unaware of the sign-stealing, but he was suspended because he was held accountable for the team's actions.
"Although Luhnow denies having any awareness that his replay review room staff was decoding and transmitting signs, there is both documentary and testimonial evidence that indicates Luhnow had some knowledge of those efforts, but he did not give it much attention," Manfred said.
"Irrespective of Luhnow’s knowledge of his club’s violations of the rules, I will hold him personally accountable for the conduct of his club."
The Astros defeated the Los Angles Dodgers in the 2017 World Series and it was their first championship in franchise history. In the last three seasons, the Astros have won at least 101 games and have been the World Series twice.