The Houston Astros fired manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow hours after Major League Baseball suspended the pair for the 2020 season for their role in a sign-stealing scandal that has tainted the team's 2017 world championship season.
Both Luhnow and Hinch will remain suspended without pay until the day after the final game of the 2020 World Series should another team choose to sign them.
The team will also be fined $5 million and forfeit first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021.
The league opened an investigation in October after former Astros players told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic that sign-stealing was common during the team's 2017 world championship team.
Former Astros P Mike Fiers told Rosenthal that Astros video staff would monitor a camera feed from centerfield, an attempt to decode the signs between the pitcher and catcher. When the staff determined an off-speed pitch was coming, they would bang on a trashcan located near the dugout to notify the Astros batter.
While MLB's report says the sign-stealing was "player-driven," it said Luhnow and Hinch knew it was happening and did nothing to stop it.
Former Astros bench coach Alex Cora was also involved in setting up the scheme, according to the report. Cora, now the manager of the Boston Red Sox, could face punishment for his role in the scandal and the conclusion of the still-ongoing investigation.
In addition to the suspensions of Hinch and Luhnow, former Astros assistant GM Brandon Taubman has been suspended for one year for comments he made to a reporter in the locker room after the team clinched the American League pennant in 2019. Taubman was fired by the Astros late last year, but he is unable to work for any team during the 2020 season should he be offered a contract.
In the moments after the Astros' Game 6 win over the Yankees in the ALCS, Taubman boasted to a group of female reporters about the team signing P Roberto Osuna. Osuna had previously served a 75-game suspension for domestic violence.
After initially supporting Taubman and denying the reporters' claims, the Astros apologized and later fired Taubman.
Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.