MLB offseason rumors overshadowed by Astros scandal

Jack Breen | Staff Writer

Nov. 21, 2019

It has been a rough start to the offseason for the Houston Astros. It began by losing the championship when Daniel Hudson struck out Michael Brantley in Game 7 of the World Series.

Since then, it has all gone downhill throughout the organization.

Houston had already been battling with controversy earlier in the series. This arose when Astros’ Assistant General Manager Brandon Taubman was accused of yelling towards female reporters during the team’s celebration following Game 6 of the ALCS when the team clinched the AL pennant.

Taubman shouted, “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so [expletive] glad we got Osuna!”

This was in reference to Houston’s closer, Roberto Osuna, who was acquired in a trade after being suspended for breaking the league’s domestic violence policy in 2018 when he pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Taubman was fired in the middle of the World Series.

After the series, Houston’s top pitcher, Gerrit Cole, declined the Astros qualifying offer of $17.8 million. This made Cole a free agent and a deal Houston does not seem plausible at this time.

Most importantly, a new scandal has risen throughout the organization. Astros ex-pitcher Mike Fiers came out to the public and reported that the team used illegal cameras in center field to steal signs from other teams during their 2017 championship run.

The 2017 World Series is the franchise’s lone World Series. Videos from 2017 have come to light on Twitter of how the team cheated during the greater portion of the season. These clips showed that when an opposing catcher gave a sign for an offspeed pitch, a member of the Astros would see the pitch call through a camera and would hit a garbage can to signal to the hitter what the pitch was going to be.

In other news relating to the scandal, Astros Special Assistant to the General Manager, Kevin Goldstein, has been accused of emailing scouts asking for their help to steal signs.

Major League Baseball has begun an investigation and is planning to conduct interviews throughout the coaching staff, as well as players from the 2017 season.

This includes high-profile names such as A.J. Hinch, Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran who will all be major league managers in 2020.

The league may conduct a league-wide investigation that could lead to many, many scandals.

On Tuesday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred released a number of comments. In his statement, he explained that he believes the Houston Astros is the only ball club with this issue. Manfred may go beyond the typical fine and draft-pick penalties if he thinks it is necessary after an investigation.

During the 2017 offseason, Manfred issued out a $2 million fine to the St. Louis Cardinals and they lost two first-round picks after an investigation. This penalty was the heaviest Manfred has given out in his time as the commissioner. Manfred stated, “it relates to the integrity of the sport” and promised “a really, really, thorough investigation.”

There are still many questions that still need to be answered on the situation, but it sure is a shock to the baseball community. Many are wondering who will be punished, how will they be punished, and to what extent.

No matter the outcome, this will make for an interesting, yet busy offseason for Major League Baseball and the Houston Astros before they report to West Palm Beach in February for Spring Training.