Former Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow is pleading his innocence.
Speaking publicly for the first time since he was fired in January for his role in the organization’s sign-stealing scandal, the ex-GM claims he was not involved in the scheme and the evidence proves it.
Luhnow told Houston TV station KPRC that he got access to the 22,000 text messages from Astros video room personnel – which were part of MLB’s investigation -- after he was fired and that they do not implicate him in any way.
“I’m not in any of those text messages,” he said. “In fact, there’s a few text messages where they say, ‘Don’t tell Jeff.’ So, it’s pretty clear that I wasn’t involved from that.”
In fact, Luhnow pointed to the fact that many who were complicit in the video-decoding scheme, which he specifically stated was separate from the trash-can scheme, are still employed by the team.
“It’s pretty clear who was involved in the video-decoding scheme, when it started, how often it happened and basically when it ended,” Luhnow said. “And I don’t know why that information, that evidence, wasn’t discussed in the ruling, wasn’t used. The people who were involved that didn’t leave naturally to go to other teams are all still employed by the Astros.
“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. So, none of those people faced any repercussions. They weren’t discussed in the report, but the evidence is all there that they were involved.”
Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were both suspended for one year after MLB determined that the Astros did cheat by stealing signs through electronic means and relaying the signals via a trash can in 2017 and part of the 2018 season. Astros owner Jim Crane decided to fire both Luhnow and Hinch following the investigation.
Alex Cora, who was the bench coach for the Astros in 2017 before becoming head coach of the Red Sox in 2018, was also suspended and subsequently fired. No players were disciplined, although Carlos Beltran was fired as Mets manager.
The Astros were also stripped of four draft picks and fined $5 million.
Luhnow said he received a letter from MLB on Jan. 3 that included the accusations against him but lacked hard evidence. He met with commissioner Rob Manfred and brought a 150-page binder outlining his innocence and asked Manfred if he could take a lie-detector test.
“He turned down my offer to do a polygraph test,” he said. “I don’t know how much of the 150-page binder he read, nut none of it made its way into the final report, so frankly, he had his mind made up. He was going to punish me. There was nowhere else to go. He was going to punish AJ as well, and AJ admitted that he knew.”
Luhnow added that he felt the goal of the investigation was not to uncover who did what, but to rather deliver harsh enough punishments from Manfred to calm things down.
“There was a drumbeat for punishments and so they weren’t going to punish Jim [Crane], like I said, they weren’t going to punish the players,” he added. “I didn’t have an assistant GM; we have a very thin front office in terms of layers, so there wasn’t too many places to go. So, they had to create a case they felt good enough about in order to punish me.”