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MLB reveals punishments for Houston Astros

Major League Baseball has handed down its ruling against the Houston Astros for their involvement in a complex scheme to steal signs using electronic technology dating back to the 2017 season.

"I treat these allegations with the utmost seriousness, and I instructed our Department of Investigations to conduct a thorough investigation," wrote Rob Manfred in an official press release. 

"I believe transparency with our fans and our Clubs regarding what occurred is extremely important, and this report is my attempt to achieve that objective."

Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic - the reporters who first broke the news of Houston's scheme - recapped in a recent article how the Astros achieved their goal.

"To steal signs, the Astros routed the feed from the center-field camera to a screen situated in the tunnel leading to the clubhouse, steps from the team's dugout at Minute Maid Park. There, people with the team decoded the signs and communicated pitches to hitters in realtime by banging on a garbage can."

Here are the full punishments handed down by Manfred, per MLB's press release:

ASTROS TEAM DISCIPLINE

1. The Club will forfeit its regular first and second round selections in the 2020 and 2021 First-Year Player Drafts. To the extent that the Club does not have a regular first or second round selection in either of those years by operation of the Basic Agreement or Major League Rules, the Club shall forfeit the applicable selection in the next First-Year Player Draft in which it possesses such selection. For the purpose of clarity, the Club will forfeit two regular first round selections and two regular second round selections in total. The forfeited draft selections will be removed from the selection order and all other selections will move up.

2. The Club will pay to my office a fine of $5 million, which is the highest allowable fine under the Major League Constitution.

INDIVIDUAL DISCIPLINE

1. Jeff Luhnow shall be suspended without pay for the period beginning on January 13, 2020 and ending on the day following the completion of the 2020 World Series. During the period of his suspension, Luhnow is prohibited from performing any services for or conducting any business on behalf of the Astros or any other Major League Club. Luhnow must not be present in any Major League, Minor League, or Spring Training facilities, including stadiums, and he may not travel with or on behalf of the Club. During the period of his suspension, my office will discuss with Luhnow an appropriate program of management/leadership training to ensure that no incidents of the type described in this report occur in the future. If Luhnow is found to engage in any future material violations of the Major League Rules, he will be placed on the permanently ineligible list.

2. A.J. Hinch shall be suspended without pay for the period beginning on January 13, 2020 and ending on the day following the completion of the 2020 World Series. During the period of his suspension, Hinch is prohibited from performing any services for or conducting any business on behalf of the Astros or any other Major League Club. Hinch must not be present in any Major League, Minor League, or Spring Training facilities, including stadiums, and he may not travel with or on behalf of the Club. If Hinch is found to engage in any future material violations of the Major League Rules, he will be placed on the permanently ineligible list.

3. Based on his inappropriate conduct in the clubhouse on October 19, 2019, Brandon Taubman shall be ineligible to perform services on behalf of any Major League Club, either as an employee or independent contractor, through the day following the completion of the 2020 World Series, at which time he will be eligible to apply to me for reinstatement. If Taubman is found to engage in any future material violations of the Major League Rules, he will be placed on the permanently ineligible list.

Additionally, "Alex Cora, the team's bench coach at the time, was a mastermind of the team's sign-stealing scheme," Rosenthal and Drellich write. "Discipline for Cora will be determined after baseball completes its investigation of the Red Sox for separate sign-stealing allegations that occurred while Cora was the team's manager in 2018, as reported by The Athletic last week."

Stay tuned for more news and developments regarding the Astros and Red Sox punishments from the league as the MLB offseason approaches the start of spring training next month.