Former Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch will lose out on millions of dollars in salary after his suspension and subsequent firing on Monday over his role in a cheating scandal in which team officials stole signs from opponents during their 2017 World Series run.
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Astros owner Jim Crane fired Hinch just minutes after MLB announced it had found evidence that he was aware of a sign-stealing system developed and utilized by Astros players and failed to alert management. Crane also fired Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow.
While the financial terms of Hinch’s contract are not publicly available, he earned $1.2 million for the 2018 season and signed a four-year extension with the Astros that year, months after the team’s World Series win. The Astros declined to comment.
"I apologize to Mr. Crane for all negative reflections this may have had on him and the Astros organization," Hinch said in a statement. "To the fans, thank you for your continued support through this challenging time -- and for this team. I apologize to all of you for our mistakes but I'm confident we will learn from it -- and I personally commit to work tirelessly to ensure I do."
MLB also suspended Hinch without pay through the 2020 World Series. It’s unclear if the Astros will attempt to withhold Hinch’s future salary in the wake of his firing.
“Neither one of them did anything about it. That’s unfortunate and the consequences are severe,” Crane said at a press conference Monday.
Hinch’s one-year suspension was just the third penalty of its length within the last century. Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo Durocher received a one-year ban in 1947 due to an “accumulation of unpleasant incidents,” including gambling-related offenses.
In the most infamous example, legendary hitter Pete Rose, then manager of the Cincinnati Reds, was banned from MLB for life for betting on baseball. He has repeatedly tried and failed to be reinstated.
MLB’s investigation found the Astros used video technology and a signaling system to steal signs from opposing teams during their World Series-winning season in 2017.
“I find that the conduct of the Astros, and its senior baseball operations executives, merits significant discipline,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in his 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 Astros were fined $5 million, the maximum allowable financial penalty under league rules, and forfeited their first- and second-round draft picks for both 2020 and 2021. MLB noted that Hinch and Luhnow would face permanent bans if they engaged in “any future material violations” in the future.
Another Astros executive, former assistant general manager Brandon Taubman, also received a one-year ban. Taubman was fired last fall after a verbal altercation with a group of female journalists in the Astros locker room.
Hinch may not be the only current MLB manager to face discipline. Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who served as the Astros’ bench coach during the 2017 season, played a key role in the sign-stealing system and is likely to face “harsh” discipline, ESPN reported.
Cora earns $800,000 per year as Red Sox manager, according to USA Today.
This story has been updated