Fired Houston Astros AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow will have fulfilled their suspensions even if there is no season in 2020.
With the uncertainty surrounding if there will be a baseball season in 2020, and if so, how long that season will be, one question was regarding the fates of former Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow. Both were suspended for the 2020 season and subsequently fired for their failure to stop the team’s sign stealing, but what would happen to their suspensions if there were no 2020 season?
As it turns out, their suspensions will be considered by MLB to be fulfilled in 2020 even if no season is played. Since their suspensions were not for a specific number of games, but rather tied to the end of the 2020 season, those suspensions will not extend into 2021. So if there is no season, neither will have actually missed any games, although they will have missed out on pay.
Would it be possible for the Astros to bring either of both of these men back in 2021? At this point I would say it’s unlikely, as owner Jim Crane definitely seemed to want to distance himself from them. In particular, Luhnow seems most unlikely to return to the club.
James Click is in place as the new GM and should get every opportunity to prove he’s the man for the job, so cutting his legs out from under him wouldn’t be a wise move. Luhnow has additional baggage beyond the sign stealing scandal anyway, so Crane should and most likely will stick with Click.
What About Hinch?
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I wouldn’t say it’s likely, but there’s at least a sliver of hope for the Hinch fans. Dusty Baker was only signed to a one-year deal with an option, so it’s entirely possible that the Astros managerial job will be vacant for 2021. If so, perhaps Hinch could be under consideration.
I still wouldn’t bet on it, though. A shortened or missed season would give Crane even more reason to want to bring Baker back for another run. Even if the club wants to go in a different direction, bench coach Joe Espada seems to be waiting in the wings.
Besides, as good as Hinch was as manager, he also seemed to lose control of the clubhouse in 2017, allowing players like Carlos Beltran to wield far more power than they should have. I don’t doubt Hinch’s integrity or his baseball acumen, but he failed to control his clubhouse, and the franchise cannot afford to have that happen again.
I do think he’ll get another managerial job somewhere, perhaps as soon as 2021, and if he learns from his mistakes, he’ll do well. Luhnow will probably get another front office job as well, though I don’t believe he should be in charge of a baseball operations department again. Too much went wrong under his regime.
Of course this won’t satisfy the rabid Astros haters who are still clamoring for the 2017 championship to be stripped, but frankly nothing will satisfy them. For its part, the club simply needs to continue to move forward and keep the past in the past, which means that bringing back Hinch or Luhnow should not be a serious option.