Former Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow sued his former team on Sunday for breach of contract, alleging that the club did not have just cause in firing him in January, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
Luhnow’s lawsuit alleges that Astros owner Jim Crane and Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred negotiated the penalties the team would face, and enabled Luhnow to be painted as a scapegoat. MLB suspended Luhnow and former Houston manager A.J. Hinch.
The league suspended Luhnow and Hinch for a year, and the pair were fired by the team shortly after. Hinch was hired to manage the Detroit Tigers in October, while Luhnow has not found a new job in baseball.
Luhnow says he had no knowledge of the Astros’ illegal sign-stealing system, nor did he play any role in it. He claims that his actions did not satisfy just cause for his eventual dismissal.
In the commissioner’s report, Manfred said that Luhnow denied knowing about the cheating scheme but was suspended because a person in his position should be “aware of the activities of his staff and players,” and that there existed evidence that contradicts Luhnow’s deniability. Manfred’s consulting with Crane is a key component of Luhnow’s lawsuit.
“The commissioner vetted potential penalties with Crane, and the two exchanged a series of proposals,” the suit reads. “Those negotiations proved beneficial to Crane and the Astros.
“The commissioner allowed the Astros to keep their 2017 World Series championship, imposed a $5 million fine (a fraction of the revenues Crane had reaped as part of the team’s recent success), and took away four draft picks. He also issued a blanket vindication of Crane, absolving him of any responsibility for failing to supervise his club.
“Moreover, Crane and the Astros were assured of fielding a contending team in 2020—the team advanced to the American League Championship Series for the fourth straight year—because the commissioner did not suspend or penalize any of the players who were directly involved in the scandal.”