None of the players are appealing

MLB infielder Tucupita Marcano banned for life for gambling violations, four other players get one-year suspensions

Reading time 3:54 min

Major League Baseball has banned San Diego Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano for life for betting on the sport. Additionally, four other players received one-year suspensions for other gambling-related violations. None of the players are appealing their discipline. 

MLB said Marcano placed 387 baseball bets totaling more than $150,000 in October 2022 and from last July through November with a legal sportsbook. The 24-year-old Venezuelan with 149 games of major league experience became the first active player in a century banned for life because of gambling.

Athletics right-handed pitcher Michael Kelly received a one-year suspension for betting on baseball, and three minor leaguers Jay Groome (Padres left-handed pitcher), José Rodríguez (Phillies infielder), and Andrew Saalfrank (D-backs left-handed pitcher). Each of those four players wagered under $1,000. The five players were disciplined for unrelated violations of the league’s gambling policy following investigations by MLB’s Department of Investigations. 

Under Major League Rule 21, "Any player, umpire or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform, shall be declared permanently ineligible." The rule also states that betting on any baseball game "in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform, shall be declared ineligible for one year."

None of the five players played in any game on which they placed a bet, the league said, and all denied having any inside information relevant to the bets. According to MLB, the betting data does not suggest that any outcomes in the games bet on by these players were compromised, influenced, or manipulated in any way.

"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 of the MLB Rob Manfred said. "The longstanding prohibition against betting on Major League Baseball games by those in the sport has been a bedrock principle for over a century. We have been clear that the privilege of playing baseball comes with a responsibility to refrain from engaging in certain types of behavior that are legal for other people."

Rob Manfred

Marcano became the second North American athlete banned for gambling in recent monthsThe NBA gave Toronto’s Jontay Porter a lifetime ban in April after concluding he disclosed confidential information to bettors and wagered on games, including on the Raptors losing.

Marcano is the first active major leaguer banned for life under the sport’s gambling provision since New York Giants outfielder Jimmy O’Connell in 1924. Pete Rose, baseball’s career hits leader, agreed to a lifetime ban in 1989 after an investigation concluded he bet on Cincinnati Reds games while managing the team.

Marcano spent parts of the past three major league seasons with Pittsburgh and San Diego, which signed him as a teenager in 2016. He made his major league debut with the Padres in 2021 before they traded him to the Pirates later that year. Marcano has not played since tearing his right ACL last July 24. The Padres claimed him off waivers from Pittsburgh last November, but he hasn’t suited up for San Diego while recovering from his knee injury.

In total, Marcano bet more than $150,000 on baseball, with $87,319 of that on MLB-related bets. Of the MLB bets Marcano placed over this period, 25 of those bets included Pirates games while he was a member of Pittsburgh’s Major League club. Marcano did not appear in any of the games on which he placed bets, however, as he was on the injured list after suffering a season-ending knee injury last July 24.

Michael Kelly

Kelly placed 10 bets on nine major league games from October 5-17, 2021, while a minor league player was assigned to Houston’s Triple-A Sugar Land farm team. The bets included wagers on outcomes, over/under on runs, and an individual pitcher’s strikeout total. Three of the nine games involved the major league Astros. His wagers totaled $99.22 and resulted in $28.30 of winnings. 

Groome was found to have placed 32 MLB-related bets from 2020-21, 24 of those involving the Red Sox Major League club while he was assigned to the organization’s High-A affiliate in Greenville, S.C. All 24 of those bets were on the outcome of the games. In total, Groome bet $453.74 on 30 MLB game-related wagers, incurring a net loss of $433.54 on those bets. 

Jay Groome

Rodríguez placed 31 baseball bets in 2021-22, including 28 MLB-related bets and three on college baseball games, all while on a Minor League contract with the White Sox. His MLB bets included seven involving the White Sox Major League team while he was assigned to the club’s Double-A affiliate in Birmingham, Alabama. Two club-related bets involved the outcomes, while the others were on the over/under for runs scored in the game. Rodríguez bet a total of $749.09 on baseball, with $724.09 of that placed on MLB-related wagers. 

José Rodríguez

Betting data shows that from 2021-22, Saalfrank placed 29 baseball bets, including 28 MLB-related bets and one parlay on college baseball. He was on a Minor League contract with the D-backs at the time, placing all of his MLB-related wagers, including four involving the D-backs, while on the injured list of Arizona’s Single-A affiliate. Saalfrank bet a total of $445.87 on baseball, with $444.07 of that on MLB-related bets, taking a net loss of $272.64 on those MLB wagers.

Andrew Saalfrank

"Since the Supreme Court decision opened the door to legalized sports betting, we have worked with licensed sports betting operators and other third parties to put ourselves in a better position from an integrity perspective through the transparency that a regulated sports betting system can provide. MLB will continue to invest heavily in integrity monitoring, educational programming, and awareness initiatives with the goal of ensuring strict adherence to this fundamental rule of our game," Commissioner Rob Manfred added.

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