Jeff Luhnow, the former Houston Astros general manager, denied any knowledge of the sign-stealing scheme and vowed that he was “not a cheater.” He was fired Monday after MLB levied a one-year suspension against him and A.J. Hinch as punishment for the team using technology to steal signs during the 2017 season,
Luhnow apologized for the “shame and embarrassment” the controversy caused the organization, according to statement obtained by Fox News. But he defended his integrity as the fallout from MLB’s punishment continued.
“I accept responsibility for rules violations that occurred on my watch as President of Baseball Operations and General Manager of the Astros. I apologize to the Astros organization, Astros fans, and the Houston community for the shame and embarrassment this has caused. I am deeply grateful to Jim Crane for the opportunity to lead baseball operations,” Luhnow’s statement read.
“I am not a cheater. Anybody who has worked closely with me during my 32-year career inside and outside baseball can attest to my integrity. I did not know rules were being broken. As the Commissioner set out in his statement, I did not personally direct, oversee or engage in any misconduct: The sign-stealing initiative was not planned or directed by baseball management; the trash-can banging was driven and executed by players, and the video decoding of signs originated and was executed by lower-level employees working with the bench coach. I am deeply upset that I wasn’t informed of any misconduct because I would have stopped it.
“I agree with Mr. Crane that our baseball operations team has achieved far more positives beyond this significant negative. Many very good people have worked, and continue to work, for the Astros organization. I am extremely proud of the many executives through the industry who were trained and promoted in our department.”
Crane announced Luhnow and Hinch’s dismissals in a Monday press conference.
"I felt with what came out in the report they both had responsibilities," Crane said. "Neither one of them started this but neither one of them did anything about it."
As part of the punishment, Houston also loses its first- and second-round draft picks for the 2020 and 2021 drafts and will be fined $5 million, according to The Athletic. Former Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman will be placed on baseball’s ineligible list.
“I find that the conduct of the Astros, and its senior baseball operations executives, merits significant discipline,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said as part of the ruling. “I base this finding on the fact that the club’s senior baseball operations executives were given express notice in September 2017 that I would hold them accountable for violations of our policies covering sign stealing, and those individuals took no action to ensure that the club’s players and staff complied with those policies during the 2017 postseason and the 2018 regular season.
“The conduct described herein has caused fans, players, executives at other MLB clubs, and members of the media to raise questions about the integrity of games in which the Astros participated. And while it is impossible to determine whether the conduct actually impacted the results on the field, the perception of some that it did causes significant harm to the game.”
Hinch and Luhnow are banned every major, minor or spring training facility as part of their suspension.