The MLB just laid the hammer down on the Astros over sign-stealing allegations … suspending manager A.J. Hinch for 1 YEAR — and hitting the team with all kinds of other punishments for cheating.
MLB commish Rob Manfred just made the announcement … saying the league found the Astros DID, in fact, steal signs from opponents beginning in the 2017 season.
Per Manfred, the league interviewed 68 witnesses — including 23 current and former Astros players — and found the cheating allegations to be credible.
As part of the punishment, Manfred announced 1-year suspensions for both Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow … as well as a fine of $5 MILLION AND the loss of draft picks.
Manfred said the Astros will be forced to give up their first AND second-round picks in both the 2020 and 2021 drafts.
Per the league’s report, the Astros used a complicated scheme where they filmed signs, decoded them in a separate room and relayed the upcoming pitches to batters by banging on dugout trash cans.
The report says former Astros bench coach and current Red Sox manager, Alex Cora, was the mastermind behind all the cheating.
According to the report, Cora invented the system … and while he hasn’t been punished yet, it’s clear a MASSIVE suspension is coming for the Boston manager.
The report states Hinch WAS aware of the cheating — and told investigators he believed it was “wrong and distracting” … but didn’t directly tell the players directly to stop.
Manfred said in the report it was clear to him most if not all, Astros players participated or received benefits from the scheme in some way … but he said individual players will NOT be punished.
“Assessing discipline of players for this type of conduct is both difficult and impractical,” Manfred said. “I am not in a position based on the investigative record to determine with any degree of certainty every player who should be held accountable, or their relative degree of culpability.”