This afternoon, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that MLB fined the St. Louis Cardinals $2 million (to be awarded to Houston) and ordered their top two 2017 draft picks to the Houston Astros as a penalty for a hacking scandal involving the Astros’ proprietary Ground Control database.
The penalty is unprecedented in awarding the Astros direct draft choices. The pick values at slots 56 and 75 overall will be added to the Astros’ 2017 bonus pool.
However, MLB’s ruling possibly left out important conclusions based on court documents. The commissioner found that former Cardinals employee Chris Correa acted alone in the hack, and the “evidence did not establish that any Cardinals’ employee” was responsible for the hack. It seems unlikely that this was the case after Correa had access to the database for 2 and a half years. In addition to the criminal charges Correa faced a few months ago, he will be banned permanently from MLB.
Though the ruling benefits the Astros immensely, there are immediate questions as to whether or not the penalties were strict enough. Should a heavier fine have been levied? For a profitable team like the Cardinals, $2 million won’t affect their bottom line. Additionally, the Cardinals weren’t picking in the top 50 anyway after their first round pick was forfeited for signing Dexter Fowler. Though the draft picks have value, under a normal year this penalty could have been harsher.
MLB will now be able to put a unique criminal case involving two teams with plenty of personnel overlap behind them. The question remains, though: Did the commissioner’s investigation correctly find that no other Cardinals’ employees were responsible? And is the penalty strict enough the discourage similar acts of espionage between teams in the future?