Luhnow outlines texts, emails and timeline of Astros’ cheating

Former Astros GM talks about the evidence he received after the investigation

Jeff Luhnow provided his perspective on the Houston Astros cheating scandal in an exclusive, 37-minute, sit-down with KPRC 2. It was his first time speaking about it since being fired in January.

Luhnow has maintained his innocence since the beginning, saying he didn’t know about the decoder or the trashcan banging.

Luhnow’s evidence

Luhnow revealed to KPRC 2 that he has evidence of his innocence.

After being fired by the Astros, he said he was able to read thousands of text-message records from Astros staff members.

“After the investigation was over and I was fired, I got access to about 22,000 text messages that were from personnel in the video room,” Luhnow explained. “And it was clear from those messages that they were communicating back and forth about the rule violations. They were aware of the Red Sox and Yankees rule violations. They were aware it was wrong, and they also were using text messages to cheat on the job. They were communicating signs, and this was to coaches, to people in the video room. It’s all there in black and white. And what’s also clear from it is who’s not involved. I’m not implicated. I’m not in any of those text messages. 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. But it’s also clear who was involved and how often it happened, and the extent to which it happened."

WATCH TONIGHT AT 6:30: See our special report “The Luhnow Interview” on KPRC 2 at streaming here at Click2Houston.com

I asked Luhnow who had access to those texts, in addition to thousands of emails.

“The texts and the documents are all part of the investigation,” Luhnow explained. “So Major League Baseball had all of it. The Astros have all of it. And, like I said, it’s all there in black and white -- pretty clear, when you read through those text messages. And, I’m talking about the video decoding scheme, I’m not talking about the trashcan banging scheme. Two separate things. But it’s pretty clear who was involved in the video decoding scheme, when it started, how often it happened and basically when it ended. And it’s also pretty clear who was not involved.”

One of his frustrations comes from those texts not making their way into the ruling.

“I don’t know why that information, that evidence, wasn’t discussed in the ruling, (or) wasn’t used," Luhnow said.

“The people who were involved that didn’t leave naturally to go to other teams are all still employed by the Astros,” he added. "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.”

The timeline

Luhnow said combing through the 22,000 text messages revealed when the idea of cheating was born.

"It’s pretty clear that the group, the cabal if you want to call it, of people in the video room (were) aligned with the coaches who were executing the video decoding scheme, that they started thinking about it towards the end of 2016,” Luhnow said.

The actual cheating would come into fruition the following year.

“About May of 2017 is when you start to see evidence of execution,” Luhnow said. " And they weren’t hiding it in terms of their discussions with one another. It was pretty blatant."

According to Luhnow, every Astros employee involved knew their role on a game-to-game basis.

“They were assigning duties, ‘Who’s on codebreaker duty tonight?’ They were text messaging signs to a coach who would be in the dugout so that he could communicate the signs to the runner at second. And it went on for all of 2017, and it went on for a portion of 2018. There was a security agent in the dugout and in the clubhouse in 2018, but they weren’t there full time, so it was a little more hit and miss in terms of when you would see evidence of it in ’18, but it did happen in ’18. It probably stopped around mid-summer ’18, and then there’s absolutely no evidence of it going on after that.”

The former Astros GM said it still bothers him that the cheating took place, not only because it was wrong, but because he said the talented team didn’t need the extra help.

“The reality is, the Astros cheated in 2017 and cheated a little bit again in 2018 using just the decoder method, and it was wrong, and it should never have happened, and I’m upset," Luhnow said. "I’m really upset that it happened. I’m upset for our fans, I’m upset for players on other teams that gave up hits as a result of this that should never have happened. If we won games because of it, it should never have happened, and we didn’t need to do it. We had a great team. The team we put together in 2017, a lot of which is still together today, is one of the best teams of the 21st century, and has had an incredible stretch. And there’s no reason why we needed to explore breaking the rules to gain an advantage, it made no sense to me.”