MLB suspends A's pitcher Kelly, four others in gambling scandal

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MLB on Tuesday announced the suspensions of five players, including Athletics pitcher Michael Kelly, for their respective involvement in violating the league's sporting betting rules and policies.

Following investigations by MLB's Department of Investigations, Kelly and San Diego Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano, along with minor league players Jay Groome (Padres pitcher), Jose Rodriguez (Philadelphia Phillies infielder) and Andrew Saalfrank (Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher) all are facing disciplinary action.

Kelly was suspended for one year, per MLB. Betting data shows that from Oct. 5 to Oct. 17, 2021, Kelly, who at the time was a minor-league player assigned to the Houston Astros' Triple-A affiliate, placed 10 bets involving nine MLB games. The bets included wagers on the outcomes, over/under bets on the number of runs scored and on an individual pitcher's strikeout total.

All other players involved -- except Marcano -- also received one-year suspensions. Marcano, who bet on 25 Pittsburgh Pirates games while he was assigned to the team but injured during all of them, was given a lifetime ban from baseball.

Three of the nine games Kelly bet on involved the Astros' major-league club. He did not appear in any of the games he bet on, and he didn't make any bets involving his assigned team.

Kelly's account bet $99.22 on MLB games, and overall, he won five of the bets and had a net win of $28.30 on the bets.

While Kelly wasn't a part of the A's organization during the time of his involvement in the bets, the A's released a statement Tuesday morning regarding the matter.

"The A’s were disappointed to learn of the matter involving Michael Kelly," the statement read. "While we cannot comment on the details, this violation occurred prior to Michael joining the A's organization and we fully support MLB’s sports betting policy and the need to adhere to all provisions of Rule 21.

"We will continue to educate all members of our organization regarding their obligations under the policy."

Oakland claimed Kelly off waivers from the Cleveland Guardians last November. He has appeared in 28 games with the A's while posting a 2.59 ERA in 31 1/3 innings (third among A's relievers) over 28 relief appearances.

Back in March, MLB learned from a legal sports betting operator that it had identified past baseball betting activity from accounts linked to several major and minor leaguers. The league gathered data from that operator and other sportsbooks, including authentication data for bets.

None of the five players identified played in any game on which they bet, and all players denied they had any inside information relevant to the bets or that any of the games were compromised or manipulated.

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 no duty to perform, shall be declared ineligible for one year. ... 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 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," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said (h/t 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 in baseball comes with a responsibility to refrain from engaging in certain types of behavior that are legal for other people.

"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.”

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