One story that flew under the radar amidst the COVID-19 crisis was the Astros’ sign-stealing controversy. Further, nobody was thinking about former Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch because there were greater matters to pay attention to.
However, the suspensions are still a pressing subject because both bans last for one year—or more specifically, the 2020 MLB season. But with concerns about the 2020 season potentially being canceled, a wrinkle formed. Questions arose and speculation grew regarding the statuses of the former Astros’ staffers’ bans. Could the suspensions be extended through 2021 to include an actual season? Or would they end after 2020?
We now have some clarity on the situation.
According to Buster Olney of ESPN, both suspensions will be fulfilled by the end of the 2020 year even if there is no baseball played.
Olney added that both suspensions would be fulfilled “following the completion of the 2020 World Series,” as MLB commissioner Rob Manfred originally announced. Thus, the end date on the bans depends on the end of the postseason instead of a specific number of games, leaving Luhnow and Hinch in the clear if the season is canceled.
On the other hand, MLB has not released the findings from their investigation into the Red Sox and former manager Alex Cora. If Cora is suspended and the season is canceled, it will be interesting to see if he joins Luhnow and Hinch when they apply for reinstatement next winter or if he will be knocked out of baseball for 2021. After all, the bans for Luhnow and Hinch came before the possibility of a cancellation was even feasible.
MLB previously stated that any further violations by Hinch and Luhnow would ultimately land them on MLB’s permanently ineligible list, keeping them out of baseball for an indefinite period of time. Of course, it still remains to be seen if Luhnow or Hinch will land new jobs following their suspensions, or if teams will decide to overlook them due to their murky and controversial histories.
In addition to the suspensions and subsequent firings of Luhnow and Hinch, the Astros were stripped of their first- and second-round picks in 2020 and 2021. The club was also fined $5 million.
While we have absolutely no clarity on the MLB season due to COVID-19 and its tendency to worsen by the minute, we do have clarity on a subject that could have resulted in another controversy if the ruling went the other way.
All in all, Luhnow and Hinch are in the clear for 2021 no matter what happens this year.