Former Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow is back in the news. Earlier this week Luhnow claimed he was unaware the Astros were illegally stealing signs during their 2017 World Series championship season. MLB suspended Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch one year for their roles in scandal earlier this year. The duo were later fired by owner Jim Crane.
"I didn't know we were cheating. I had no idea. I wasn't involved," Luhnow said during a television interview. "Major League Baseball's report stated that I didn't know anything about the trash can banging scheme. They stated I might have known something about the video decoding scheme and not paid it much attention. But there was really no credible evidence of that claim. I didn't know. I didn't know about either of them. And it felt like, on that day, that I was getting punished for something that I didn't do. And it didn't feel right."
Doubt is now being cast on Luhnow's claims. MLB acquired "direct testimony" that Luhnow was involved in the sign-stealing scheme during their investigation, reports The Athletic's Evan Drellich. Drellich adds Luhnow made claims that were "misleading or inaccurate" during his television interview. Here's more from Drellich:
"Luhnow received emails that put him on notice of the activity, but claims he only read parts of the emails even though he responded to the emails," the person said. "One witness clearly stated and provided evidence that Luhnow knew, and others identified facts indicating that Luhnow knew. The best interpretation of the evidence is that Luhnow either knew exactly what the video room was doing, or knew generally what they were doing and willfully chose to keep himself in the dark."
There are two possibilities here and neither reflects well on Luhnow. Either he knew about the sign-stealing and was complicit, and is lying about it now, or he truly did not know and failed to keep his house in order as general manager. Keep in mind it was previously reported an Astros front office staffer showed Luhnow the team's "Codebreaker" algorithm in September 2016.
Ultimately, the degree of Luhnow's involvement is irrelevant. Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a memo to all 30 MLB teams in 2017 stating the general manager would be held responsible for any sign-stealing transgressions. The Astros got caught and, as Manfred warned, the general manager was held responsible. Whether Luhnow was directly involved is irrelevant given the warning.
Luhnow's interview comes at a time when he may be trying to return to baseball. His suspension ends following the conclusion of the World Series and several teams have general manager openings. Luhnow has already been connected to the Angels, for example. It's unlikely this is the last time we hear him deny any involvement in the sign-stealing scandal.