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Astros receive 2017 draft picks #56/#75 and $2M from Cardinals for hacking incidents

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  • Astros receive 2017 draft picks #56/#75 and $2M from Cardinals for hacking incidents

    Buster Olney @Buster_ESPN
    MLB strips Cards of their first two picks in '17 draft (56, 75 overall) and fines them $2 million; money and picks forwarded to Astros.

    Former Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa given a permanent suspension by MLB.

    Reaction to MLB's punishment of the Cardinals from around the sport is immediate: Some evaluators find penalty to be shockingly light.
    Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal
    Pick 56 in last year’s draft was assigned value of $1,141,600. Pick 75 was $851,900. 2017 values will be added to #Astros’ pool.
    Jeff Passan @JeffPassan
    The St. Louis Cardinals make $300 million a year in revenue. A $2 million fine is 0.67% of that. It is change in their couch.

    Ridiculously low penalty, imo.

    Here's what they did:
    Last edited by H2O4me; 01-30-2017, 02:16 PM.

  • #2
    Why Cardinals' penalty sparked outrage across MLB

    ​​​​​​Buster Olney/ESPN
    No matter what decision commissioner Rob Manfred rendered in the St. Louis Cardinals' hacking case, he was going to anger lots of folks. If his decision was perceived as being too hard on St. Louis, the Cardinals would be angry over the fact that, from their perspective, they were punished for the actions of someone who they say acted as a lone wolf. If he didn't give the Houston Astros some form of compensation, then the Houston front office, the target of Chris Correa's federal crimes, would have thought it should have gotten relief.

    And because of Manfred's friendship and perceived alliance with St. Louis chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., any penalty thought to be too light would be viewed the prism of favoritism.

    In the end, Manfred's decision to force the Cardinals to surrender $2 million and their No. 56 and 75 overall picks in the 2017 draft to the Astros probably offended rival evaluators, as a group, more than anyone else.

    Some common observations and conspiracy theories that belong to officials in the industry:

    1. The decision will have no impact as a deterrent. The level of the fine is unprecedented, as MLB notes. Rival evaluators note that a $2 million fine, within the context of a $10 billion industry and a franchise that generates hundreds of millions in revenue, is one flake in a snowstorm of money. Two million dollars is about half of the average salary of an MLB player.

    And in the eyes of a lot of evaluators, the practical impact of the loss of those two particular draft picks is negligible.

    "When teams are deciding whether to go after free agents, what you always hear is that they don't want to give up a first-round pick," one evaluator said. "You see some teams willing to sign free agents if they have to give up a second-round pick -- and that's what the Cardinals gave up. It's not that big of a deal."

    About the second pick surrendered, the No. 75 pick: It's a competitive balance pick that other clubs don't think the Cardinals should even have given the financial strength of the franchise, and it's a benefit that a lot of other teams don't have. In a sense, evaluators look at the loss of the No. 75 pick as something like a frequent traveler giving up special access to an airlines lounge: They're not giving up something that all teams value.

    2. Some rival evaluators strongly believe that the Astros should not have been the beneficiaries in this case because they are being rewarded for doing a poor job with their internet security and they are being given a competitive advantage over their AL West rivals in getting the extra picks.

    "It's not like the Astros were the only team hurt by the hacking," one evaluator said. "A lot of teams were, with the leaking of the trade information [on Deadspin]. Why didn't every team hurt by that get something?"

    Another evaluator noted the cost of the security adjustments made by individual teams after the Deadspin story appeared.

    "Why aren't the Cardinals paying everybody for that?" he asked.

    3. Rival evaluators were furious that the Cardinals weren't stripped of a draft pick more meaningful, with many mentioning the 2018 first-round pick. St. Louis surrendered its first round pick in signing Dexter Fowler, and in MLB's decision, the penalty was couched as "the two highest available selections" in the 2017 draft.

    "Does that mean they would've had to give up their first- and second-round picks if they hadn't signed Fowler?" an evaluator asked. "If it was about taking their two highest picks, then why weren't they forced to give up the equivalent of a No. 1 pick" -- in 2018, when the Cardinals have a first-round pick again.

    4. Some rival evaluators see the penalties as being shockingly thin relative to last summer's punishment of the Boston Red Sox over violations in the signing of international amateurs. Boston was stripped of players and given a one-year ban in participating in the market.

    "What the Red Sox did was much more common [in baseball]," an evaluator said. "But Boston got whacked with something really tough. That was a big deal. What [Correa] did was a lot more serious -- it landed the guy in jail -- and the Cardinals weren't punished as much."

    5. In light of how this played out, there is great industry cynicism over the timing of the Cardinals' decision to give up their first-round pick for Fowler. "This is an organization that has had a philosophy of not being willing to give up their first-round pick to sign free agents," noted a rival evaluator.

    This is true. As ESPN researcher Sarah Langs notes, the last time that St. Louis gave up its first-round pick to sign a free agent was in 2002, when the No. 30 pick went to the Oakland Athletics for the Cardinals' offseason signing of free agent Jason Isringhausen. The A's selected Ben Fritz, who never made it to the majors.

    In the 1999 draft, the Cardinals' No. 18 pick went to the Baltimore Orioles for the offseason signing of free agent Eric Davis. Baltimore took Rich Stahl, who never made it to the majors. In that same draft, the Cardinals got the No. 30 pick from the Braves for their offseason signing of Brian Jordan. Atlanta signed Jordan one year before St. Louis signed Davis, so the Cardinals already knew they had the Braves' first-round pick when they gave up their own.

    Because of that history, frustrated rivals wonder if the Cardinals gave up their top pick with working knowledge that they were in jeopardy of losing it.

    6. A lot of folks with other teams do not believe -- and will never believe -- that Correa did not share the information with one or more peers, especially in light of a general reference in his testimony that he did.

    Manfred was in a no-win situation no matter what he chose to do, except for this: MLB and the Cardinals can now move on, surrounded by a chorus of angry grumbling.

    The Astros got the picks and money, as Jake Kaplan writes.

    For the Cardinals, the biggest loss in this is the stain on the team's reputation.

    Chris Correa bore the brunt of the punishment, writes Tyler Kepner. The Cardinals got off lightly for the hack, writes Jeff Sullivan.

    Cardinals team officials say this is the end of a long and challenging process, writes Derrick Goold. There are no winners and only losers in this case, writes Jose de Jesus Ortiz.


    • #3
      Cardinals should have received tougher punishment from MLB after hacking Astros

      Ken Rosenthal
      My first reaction? The Cardinals got off easy.

      Their top two picks from this year’s draft — Nos. 56 and 75 — are going to the Astros, along with the accompanying pool money. They also must pay the Astros $2 million within 30 days of Monday’s decision.

      I wish commissioner Rob Manfred had gone further, forcing the Cardinals to also sacrifice their next first-round pick and/or international bonus pool money.

      The actions of former Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa — who is serving a 46-month prison sentence for hacking into the Astros’ database — were that bad.

      Manfred, mind you, was not in an easy position.

      Baseball had no precedent for penalizing corporate espionage. And while Correa admitted in court that he told Cardinals “colleagues” about the information that he discovered, the federal government did not charge any other Cardinals employee with a crime.

      The evidence showed that Correa was one man acting against one team, not the entire sport. He did not cooperate with baseball’s investigation. Manfred had to go by the facts, and the facts showed only so much.

      Manfred still held St. Louis responsible, determining that proprietary information is extremely valuable, and that Correa was in position to use the Astros’ information to benefit the Cardinals. The confiscation of two picks was the most severe penalty of its kind ever imposed on an organization, according to baseball officials, and the $2 million in damages was significantly higher than the damage calculation by the federal government.

      Even then, Manfred said, “The type of potential competitive harm the Astros suffered as a result of Mr. Correa’s conduct is not amenable to precise quantification.”

      In other words, someone was going to complain, whatever Manfred decided.

      Still, what are we talking about here?

      The Cardinals already had sacrificed their first-round pick for signing free-agent outfielder Dexter Fowler. In the opinion of one rival executive, they were more aggressive targeting players with qualifying offers this offseason, figuring they would lose at least their first-rounder due to the scandal.

      “It does essentially make the cost less to them,” the executive said.

      The 56th and 75th picks hardly are worthless; their assigned values in last year’s draft were just under $2 million combined. The Cardinals’ first selection now will be No. 94; clearly, they’ve lost the meat of their draft.

      Here’s the problem:

      The 19th pick — the one the Cardinals sacrificed for Fowler — was more valuable than the 56th and 75th combined, with an assigned value of $2,378,800 last year. And it was gone before Manfred could take it away.

      The $2 million fine, meanwhile, was the maximum amount that Manfred could levy, according to baseball rules. Still, that sum is a relative pittance for a major-league franchise, backup-player money. Consider two free agents who recently signed for $2 million — Cubs left-hander Brian Duensing and Tigers catcher Alex Avila.

      The Red Sox, by contrast, had five prospects declared free agents last July and were banned for signing international amateur players for one year after baseball found them guilty of circumventing the rules for signing teenage prospects from Latin America — an offense considered more typical and less serious than Correa’s.

      Manfred, remember, was in a similarly difficult spot when he made then-Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman the first player to be disciplined under baseball’s domestic-violence policy last March, issuing him a 30-game suspension.

      In that case, Manfred also had to deal with a possible challenge from the players’ union, and most viewed his decision as fair (I praised it here): On the other hand, some within the game said Manfred was too lenient ruling on another unique matter last September — the suspension of Padres general manager A.J. Preller for 30 days for withholding medical information in the trade of left-hander Drew Pomeranz.

      The point is, when a commissioner acts without precedent, he essentially is flying blind.

      Conspiracy theorists will note that Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt was a strong supporter of Manfred for commissioner — the head of the search committee, in fact. But when I interviewed Manfred about that last January, he made a strong case that such concerns were unfounded.

      “I have — and I’m glad I’ve had — a long and positive relationship with Bill DeWitt. But I also have had a long and positive relationship with a lot of other owners. He is by no means unique in any way. And quite frankly, although it has not been for as long, I have a really good relationship with (Astros owner) Jim Crane.

      “I think what the owners expect me to do — regardless of what my relationship (with an owner) may or may not be personally — is do the right thing by the institution. That’s what I intend to do when I have all the facts about the Houston-St. Louis thing.

      “Over the long haul, that is the only way you can survive in this job. You just have to do the right thing, what you think is the right thing. I think owners understand that it’s not personal. It’s protecting the institution.”

      I do not doubt that Manfred acted without bias. I just wish he had gone further in penalizing the Cardinals.