TODAY: In a response to Luhnow’s interview, “people with knowledge of Major League Baseball’s findings during the Astros sign-stealing investigation” tell The Athletic’s Evan Drellich that “there was direct testimony” from Astros personnel interviewed during the league’s inquiries “that Luhnow was aware of the sign-stealing scheme.”
“Luhnow received emails that put him on notice of the activity, but claims he only read parts of the emails even though he responded to the emails,” a source tells Drellich. “One witness clearly stated and provided evidence that Luhnow knew, and others identified facts indicating that Luhnow knew. The best interpretation of the evidence is that Luhnow either knew exactly what the video room was doing, or knew generally what they were doing and willfully chose to keep himself in the dark.”
TUESDAY: Former Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow had a years-long run as one of baseball’s most respected executives, even building a World Series-winning team in 2017. However, the legitimacy of the team’s success under Luhnow has come into question over the past year because of the Astros’ well-documented sign-stealing scandal that became public last offseason. Major League Baseball suspended Luhnow and A.J. Hinch, then the Astros’ manager, for a year apiece in January as a result of the team’s misdeeds. Houston subsequently fired the pair.
In an extensive interview with Vanessa Richardson of KPRC, Luhnow continued to deny any wrongdoing. Consequently, Luhnow doesn’t believe Major League Baseball was right to issue him a one-year ban.
A report from last February indicated Luhnow was aware of “Codebreaker,” a video scheme the Astros utilized to steal signs, but Luhnow told Richardson: “I didn’t know we were cheating. I had no idea. I wasn’t involved. Major League Baseball’s report stated that I didn’t know anything about the trash can banging scheme. They stated I might have known something about the video decoding scheme and not paid it much attention. But there was really no credible evidence of that claim. I didn’t know. I didn’t know about either of them. And it felt like, on that day, that I was getting punished for something that I didn’t do. And it didn’t feel right.”
Luhnow claims he was adamant that the Astros followed the rules, that “personnel in the video room” were among the “Codebreaker” masterminds, and that he tried to crack down on sign-stealing from Houston and other teams. He’s even of the belief that some of the perpetrators are still part of the Astros organization.
“The people who were involved, that didn’t leave naturally to go to other teams, are all still employed by the Astros,” Luhnow said. “In fact, one of the people who was intimately involved, I had demoted from a position in the clubhouse to a position somewhere else, and after I was fired, he was promoted back into the clubhouse.”
While Luhnow did acknowledge that the Astros violated the rules during his reign, he’s nonetheless displeased that commissioner Rob Manfred suspended him. The executive said he requested a meeting with Manfred last offseason and presented him a roughly 150-page binder “with facts, with emails, with documents, with testimony, each and every single allegation that was in that charging document.” Luhnow even offered to take a polygraph test in an effort to prove his innocence, but Manfred turned him down.
“I don’t know how much of the 150-page binder he read, but none of it made its way into the final report, so frankly, he had his mind made up,” Luhnow said. “He was going to punish me. There was nowhere else to go. He was going to punish A.J. as well, and A.J. admitted that he knew.”
Manfred disputed Luhnow’s comments Tuesday, though, telling ESPN Radio (via ESPN.com) that “[Luhnow] damaged the game, and as a result, he was disciplined.”
As for Hinch, Luhnow revealed that the two continue to keep in touch. The Tigers and White Sox have shown interest in Hinch this month regarding their managerial vacancies, so he could get back in the game in a prominent role sometime soon. Luhnow also has interest in reviving his baseball career, but if he doesn’t return to the sport, he expects to land on his feet elsewhere.
Luhnow has taken “a hard look at the NFL, at the NBA, little bit at NHL, I didn’t grow up around hockey so that one’s a little tougher, E-Sports, soccer, both in our continent and in Europe,” because he believes his skill set would carry over into a different sport.