Former GM Jeff Luhnow sues Astros, claims he was scapegoated

Luhnow was fired in January for his alleged involvement in team’s sign-stealing scandal

HOUSTON – Ex-Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow has sued his former employer, claiming he was the scapegoat in the sign-stealing investigation.

Overall, the complaint matches what he told KPRC 2′s Vanessa Richardson. In early October, Luhnow spoke exclusively about the scandal for the first time since being fired. He claimed to not have knowledge of the cheating.

The suit, filed in Harris County, states (in part) the following:

The MLB’s “investigation” actually was a negotiated resolution between Astros' owner Jim Crane and MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred that enabled the team to keep its World Series championship, (and) went to great lengths to publicly exonerate Crane, and scapegoated Luhnow for a sign-stealing scandal that he had no knowledge of and played no part in. The sign-stealing activities were not directed by the Astros' front office. Rather, they were devised and executed—as noted by the Commissioner’s own findings—by baseball operations employees in collaboration with coaches and players. The Astros fired Luhnow even though he had no knowledge of—or involvement in—the sign-stealing schemes. Yet everyone above and below Luhnow in the Astros' organization came away unscathed (with the lone exception of Manager A.J. Hinch, who admitted he knew about the schemes). Remarkably, the video room employees who conceived and orchestrated the sign-stealing system remained employed by the club throughout the 2020 season.

Luhnow told KPRC 2 that most of those who were involved with the scandal are still with the Astros.

The suit goes on to call MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred’s investigation “deeply flawed,” and claims Rob Manfred consulted with Astros Owner Jim Crane before handing down the punishments.

“The Commissioner struck a deal with Crane to make Luhnow the scapegoat of the cheating scandal while absolving Crane, the players, and others of responsibility,” the lawsuit reads. “The Commissioner’s report concluded that ‘Luhnow neither devised nor actively directed the efforts of the replay review room staff to decode signs in 2017 or 2018.’ Even so, the Commissioner held Luhnow ‘personally accountable for the conduct of his club’ irrespective of whether Luhnow knew about the Astros' sign-stealing schemes, and suspended him for the 2020 season.”

Also brought up in the lawsuit are the 22,000 text messages Luhnow told KPRC he had obtained.

“Significantly, the Commissioner also had access to—but apparently did not review and conveniently failed to reference in his report—more than 22,000 text and chat messages sent or received by Tom Koch-Weser, the ringleader of the Astros' sign-stealing schemes,” the lawsuit revealed. “These thousands of messages documented the Astros' sign-stealing schemes in real-time and detail how coaches, video room staffers, and other employees openly discussed their sign-stealing activities. Tellingly, none of these messages sent or received by Koch-Weser included Luhnow or suggested that he had any awareness of the activity. Koch-Weser, who served as manager of Major League advanced information, even texted his colleagues ‘don’t tell Jeff.’ The text messages effectively identify the actual participants in the sign-stealing schemes.”

According to the document, Luhnow was signed to a contract that guaranteed him more than $31 million through 2025.

Read the full lawsuit below:

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