MLB Bans Padres’ Tucupita Marcano for Life for Betting on Baseball, Suspends Four Others for One Year

  • Marcano wagered $87k on 231 MLB-related bets, 25 of which were on his team
  • He was injured at the time and did not play in any of the games
  • Four players bet on MLB games while in the minor leagues, but not on their own teams
  • None of the betting was found to have damaged the integrity of the games
Home plate covered in dirt
Tucupita Marcano bet on 25 games involving the Pittsburgh Pirates while with the team in 2022 and 2023. [Image:]

Bet on 25 of his team’s games

Just a day after the news broke that San Diego Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano was under investigation for betting on baseball, Major League Baseball has announced that Marcano has been banned from the game for life for violating the league’s gambling policy.

After an investigation, MLB found that Marcano placed 387 baseball bets, 231 of which were MLB-related, during two periods while he was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates: October 16, 2022 to October 23, 2022 and July 12, 2023 to November 1, 2023. Most of his MLB-related bets were parlays.

If the bets were “just” on baseball, Marcano would have been suspended for a year, per Major League Rule 21. But 25 of the bets included Pirates games while he was assigned to the major league club (meaning actually on the team and not in the minor leagues). He did not play in any of the games because he tore his ACL on July 24, 2023.

he only won 4.3% of his MLB bets and lost almost all of his parlays involving the Pirates

Marcano bet more than $150,000 on baseball, including $87,319 on MLB-related wagers. He was also a terrible bettor: according to MLB, he only won 4.3% of his MLB bets and lost almost all of his parlays involving the Pirates. Most of his Pirates bets were on the moneyline or over/under total runs scored.

The league said it found no evidence that Marcano had any inside information or that the games were compromised in any way.

Four players bet while in the minors

The league has suspended four other players for one year for betting on baseball, but not on their own team. One is a major leaguer, Oakland A’s pitcher Michael Kelly. In October 2021, while on the Houston Astros’ Triple-A squad, he placed ten bets, nine of which were on MLB games, three of those involving the Astros’ big league club. His bets amounted to $99.22.

net loss of $433.54 on $453.74 in wagers

Padres’ minor league pitcher Jay Groome placed 32 MLB-related bets from July 22, 2020 to July 24, 2021, when he was in the Red Sox’ minor league system. 24 of the bets involved the Red Sox. He was also an awful bettor: he only won two of the bets and ended up with a net loss of $433.54 on $453.74 in wagers.

Philadelphia Phillies minor league infielder José Rodríguez placed 31 baseball bets on September 30, 2021 and from June 5, 2022 to July 30, 2022 while in the Chicago White Sox’ minor league system. Seven of the bets were on White Sox contests. Rodríguez bet $749.09 on baseball, most of which was MLB-related.

Finally, Arizona Diamondbacks minor league pitcher Andrew Saalfrank, who pitched in the Diamondbacks’ 2023 playoff run to the World Series after only being called up from the minors in early September, made 29 bets – all but one on MLB games – from September 9, 2021 to October 29, 2021 and on March 9, 2022. He wagered $445.87 on baseball, $444.07 of that on MLB games, and ended up with a net loss of $272.64 on the MLB bets. Four of the bets were on Diamondbacks games.

Because none of the four players bet on their own teams’ games, they avoided lifetime bans. Like in the Marcano situation, the league did not find any evidence of corruption.

No rest for MLB

This is the second major betting scandal in Major League Baseball this season. The first made worldwide headlines, as Ippei Mizuhara, the interpreter for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani, pleaded guilty in May to stealing almost $17m from the league’s best slugger to pay gambling debts to an illegal bookie.

David Fletcher, a close friend of Ohtani and a teammate for six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, is now also under investigation for possible illegal betting. Investigators believe that Fletcher may have placed bets on non-baseball games with Matthew Bowyer, the same bookie with whom Mizuhara bet.

In March, Fletcher told ESPN that he was in attendance at the hotel poker game in 2021 where Mizuhara bet Bowyer. Fletcher said he knew that Bowyer was a bookie, but never placed any bets with him. If Fletcher is found to have placed wagers with an illegal bookie, he will likely only be fined, as long the bets were not on MLB games. The league does allow players to bet on non-MLB sports, but the gambling must be done through legal sportsbooks.

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