Former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch will not serve any suspension time beyond 2020, regardless of whether a season is played, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney. Both were fired by the Houston organization after MLB issued year-long bans arising out of the sign-stealing scandal of the 2017 Astros.
Per the report, this determination was made “because the suspensions are tied to the end of the 2020 postseason rather than a specific number of games.” That’s not necessarily a compelling technical reading — if that’s even the right way to address the matter. Regardless, it does seem consistent in substance with the reported handling of player suspensions.
If indeed this is how commissioner Rob Manfred handles things, then the path will be clear for both Luhnow and Hinch to return later this year — as had been the case before the surprise coronavirus shutdown.Presumably, the same determination will hold for former Astros bench coach and Red Sox manager Alex Cora, if he ends up being suspended.
Whether or not that comes to pass will obviously depend upon whether some team takes a chance. When we polled MLBTR readers in early February, most anticipated that Luhnow would never return to a GM seat but that Hinch would again be tasked with leading a dugout. Hinch was certainly a more broadly popular figure and has struck a much more conciliatory tone since the sign-stealing scandal broke. On the other hand, he was also in the dugout while the illicit activity occurred and did not avail himself of the many avenues to halt it. It is less clear to what extent Luhnow was fully aware of the cheating scheme.