The Houston Astros day of reckoning finally came, with MLB handing out some of the harshest punishment in sports history. Was it enough though?
After one of the most thorough investigations in sports history, MLB has come down on the Houston Astros with huge suspensions and fines. GM Jeff Luhnow and skipper AJ Hinch have been suspended for the 2020 season.
In addition to the 2020 suspensions, the Astros announced that they have fired both men. The team will also lose their 1st and 2nd round picks (and the pool money that goes with it) along with a $5M fine. Brandon Taubman, who was already fired by the Astros for making comments about Roberto Osuna to female reporters, is placed on the MLB Ineligible list.
It should be noted Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora is awaiting a suspension of his own since he was the chief architect of this scheme. New Mets’ skipper Carlos Beltran was technically a player during his time with the Astros so he, like all others involved, has been spared.
There is a lot to unpack in these suspensions. A lot is going to be written about how MLB laid down the law and nothing like this will happen again. It sounds like the Astros got hammered but they really didn’t have anything cataclysmic happen that will affect their bottom line or their future.
Let’s start with the fine. The Houston Astros were fined $5M. Astros owner Jim Crane is worth a whopping $2.5 BILLION dollars. He has $5M sitting in his fourth house’s luxury yacht’s bedroom’s couch, this is literally meaningless. The Astros franchise is valued at $1.77B and this will have zero impact on the desirability to buy the franchise or its bottom line.
Lastly, the top payroll a team could have before the competitive balance tax kicks in was $206M. That $5M fine doesn’t count towards the luxury tax and equates to just over half of an on-field baseball WAR. In baseball terms, the Houston Astros paid $5M to have a system that upped the offensive output of every player in the lineup that participated which generated a ton of value. $5M in a billion-dollar league is a joke and will not deter anything.