While ex-Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were slapped with year-long suspensions and subsequently fired for their roles in the team's sign-stealing scandal, players involved were completely exonerated.
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred explained his decision not to penalize the players by calling it “difficult and impractical." But according to The Wall Street Journal, the league and the MLB Players Association agreed to a deal that granted immunity to players in exchange for honest testimony.
But there is a simpler explanation for why no players were penalized: The league and the MLB Players Association struck an agreement early in the process that granted immunity in exchange for honest testimony, according to several people familiar with the matter.
The league was quick to make such an offer, these people said, in part because it did not believe it would win subsequent grievances with any players it attempted to discipline ...
The deal is a sign of MLB’s desire for a speedy and conflict-free investigation, the continuing power of the baseball players’ union and the fragile state of the sport’s labor relations. The promise of amnesty allowed the league to interview 23 current and former Astros players during the two-month investigation.
The investigation resulted in the aforementioned suspensions as well as the Astros being fined $5 million and losing their first and second-round draft picks for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
Manager Alex Cora mutually agreed to part ways with the Boston Red Sox shortly thereafter, and former Astros player Carlos Beltran stepped down from his new role as New York Mets manager. Cora had been the Astros bench coach and Beltran an Astros player in 2017 and both were mentioned prominently in MLB's report on the scheme.
MLB is in the middle of a separate sign-stealing investigation involving the 2018 Red Sox. Cora is expected to be handed a suspension as long -- if not longer -- than Hinch and Luhnow's once the investigation concludes.