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AJ Hinch, Jeff Luhnow suspensions fulfilled in 2020 even if MLB season canceled

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Former Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch and ex-Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow will fulfill their one-season suspensions for the team's sign-stealing scandal even if no baseball is played in 2020, sources told ESPN's Buster Olney on Thursday.

Hinch and Luhnow were given the one-year bans and subsequently fired in January following an investigation by Major League Baseball that confirmed the Astros had cheated by using a camera-based sign-stealing system during the regular season and playoffs of their World Series-winning 2017 season and during part of the 2018 regular season.

According to the wording from commissioner Rob Manfred's decision, both punishments end "following the completion of the 2020 World Series."

Sources told Olney that, because the suspensions are tied to the end of the 2020 postseason rather than a specific number of games, MLB will view Luhnow and Hinch as having served their discipline this year.

MLB said in January that further violations by Hinch and Luhnow would result in them being placed on MLB's permanently ineligible list.

Along with the punishments for Hinch and Luhnow, the Astros also lost their first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021 and were fined $5 million. Manfred said in January that he would not strip the Astros of their World Series title.

Last month, MLB announced that Opening Day had been pushed back to mid-May at the earliest because of the coronavirus pandemic. The league and players' union also negotiated terms in March for the conditions needed for a return to play, with both sides expressing a willingness to stretch the season late into the 2020 calendar year if needed.