The Houston Astros fired manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow in January 2020 following an investigation into alleged sign-stealing by the team. Months later, the ex-GM is now suing the team. Luhnow alleges that the team set him up as the "scapegoat" and said that he had no prior knowledge of the sign-stealing.
According to TMZ Sports, the 53-year-old Luhnow filed a breach of contract lawsuit against the team. He signed a contract in 2018 with the team that included $31 million in guaranteed money, as well as performance bonuses. Luhnow says that he lost out on more than $22 million after the team fired him. He claims that the Astros fired him "even though [he] had no knowledge of — or involvement in — the sign-stealing schemes."
The lawsuit adds: "Yet everyone above and below Luhnow in the Astros organization came away unscathed" — including the "video room employees who conceived and orchestrated the sign-stealing system." Luhnow said that the investigation was "deeply flawed" and that the Astros had no basis for firing him. The ex-GM cited his "unblemished record and a 16 year history of compliance with MLB rules."
According to CBS Sports, the lawsuit also referred to the investigation as a "negotiation resolution. He said that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and Astros' owner Jim Crane exchanged a series of proposals. The lawsuit said that the negotiations proved beneficial to the team.
"The commissioner allowed the Astros to keep their 2017 World Series championship, imposed a $5 million fine (a fraction of the revenues Crane had reaped as part of the team's recent success), and took away four draft picks," the lawsuit said. "He also issued a blanket vindication of Crane, absolving him of any responsibility for failing to supervise his club. Moreover, Crane and the Astros were assured of fielding a contending team in 2020 — the team advanced to the American League Championship Series for the fourth straight year — because the commissioner did not suspend or penalize any of the players who were directly involved in the scandal."
When Manfred announced the suspensions, he said that Hinch was aware of the sign-stealing. However, he added that Luhnow repeatedly denied having any knowledge of the cheating. Manfred still held the ex-GM accountable for what went on in the building.0comments
"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 in January. "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."
Prior to his firing, Luhnow received a one-year suspension following the MLB investigation. Hinch received the same punishment, but he is back in the league. Hinch's suspension came to an end in late October, and the Detroit Tigers hired him to be the new manager. Luhnow still remains out of baseball.