Gambling

MLB Players Betting on Baseball a Big Problem • This Week in Gambling


This week it was announced that an infielder for the San Diego Padres has been permanently barred from the league for betting on baseball. Tucupita Marcano violated the MLB gambling policy, and four additional players received suspensions for similar actions: Michael Kelly, a reliever for the Oakland Athletics, and minor league players Jay Groome (a pitcher for the Padres), José Rodríguez (an infielder for the Philadelphia Phillies), and Andrew Saalfrank (a pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks).

Each of the four suspended players received a one-year ban from the league, and none are contesting the action taken against them. The decision of the league stemmed from data provided by a legal sports betting operator, indicating gambling activity linked to accounts held by these players. At the age of 24, Marcano entered the professional baseball scene when the San Diego Padres signed him as an amateur free agent in 2016. His journey took a turn in 2021 when he was traded to the Pirates alongside Jack Suwinski in exchange for Adam Frazier.

In a twist of fate, Marcano returned to the Padres via waivers. Unfortunately, his playing time has been sidelined since July of the previous year due to an ACL tear. MLB’s inquiry unearthed troubling details about Marcano’s involvement in gambling. It was revealed that he not only betting on baseball frequently, but purportedly placed wagers exceeding $150,000 on nearly 400 baseball games, encompassing both MLB matches and international contests. Shockingly, the investigation also uncovered instances where Marcano allegedly bet on games involving his own team during his tenure with the Pirates.

Making matters even worse for the league from a PR perspective, a recent ESPN report implicated former Angels infielder David Fletcher and ex-minor league player Cody Shultz in the Southern California illegal betting ring. Subsequently, on Monday morning, ESPN disclosed that MLB is commencing a betting investigation into Fletcher, who is currently part of the Atlanta Braves farm system.

It’s reported that Fletcher engaged in betting activities with Mathew Bowyer, the same illicit bookmaker utilized by Mizuhara. ESPN notes that Fletcher refrained from betting on baseball. Conversely, Schultz, a close friend from Fletcher’s high school days, purportedly did, even placing bets on Angels games in which Fletcher participated. Schultz is identified as “Bookmaker 3” in the Mizuhara complaint, according to ESPN.

“The strict enforcement of Major League Baseball’s rules and policies governing gambling conduct is a critical component of upholding our most important priority: protecting the integrity of our games for the fans,” commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “The longstanding prohibition against betting on Major League Baseball games by those in the sport has been a bedrock principle for over a century.”

 



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