Chris Cotillo is reporting that the Cardinals will forfeit their top two draft picks (#56 and #75) to Houston, as well as paying Houston $2 million as a fine. MLB investigators determined that only Chris Correa was aware of the breach into Ground Control. Correa, in addition to the 46-month prison sentence, has received a permanent ban from MLB.
So the Astros will have the #15, #53, #56, #75, and #91 picks in the Top 100 of the 2017 draft.
Buster Olney is reporting that the initial reaction around baseball is that the punishment of the Cardinals is "shockingly light."
The Astros seem okay with it, but what else are they going to say?
Jose de Jesus Ortiz writes that Manfred/MLB had no choice but to hit the Cardinals hard.The #Astros statement: "This unprecedented award by the Commissioner's office sends a clear message of the severity of these actions.''— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 30, 2017
RedbirdDaily writes that the decision is a huge sigh of relief mainly because Manfred made his decision *after* the new CBA had been ratified, which limited the amount of the fine MLB could hand down. The delay in punishment also gave the Cardinals time to sign Dexter Fowler (thus giving their 1st Round pick to the Cubs) and also to spend money on international free agents. That's shady AF.
For "package deals," MLB banned the Red Sox from signing players for a year and removed 5 prospects. The Cardinals won't lose a top 50 pick.— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) January 30, 2017
It still defies logic that Chris Correa was the only person who knew about his hacking the Astros. Like, what, he kept the info to himself?— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 30, 2017
Okay, I've spent a decent amount of time thinking about this. I actually sort of believe the MLB investigators here that Correa didn't work within the rest of the Cardinals' organization to hack the Astros. Let's think about it for a second:
1) We find in the Chronicle's report from Saturday that Correa spent 2.5 years routinely accessing Ground Control by guessing the passwords of Sig Mejdal and other organizational staff.
2) Correa said he was looking to see if the Astros had taken the Cardinals' proprietary information, which is most definitely just a cover seeing as how...
a) he looked for 2.5 years
b) he referenced Ground Control at times that were critical to his own job description with the Cardinals - trade deadline, draft season, winter meetings.
3) The Chronicle pointed out Correa's heated relationship with Mejdal:
Documents also reflect the degree to which Correa was motivated by jealousy of the attention Mejdal received from Sports Illustrated for the Astros' data-driven attitudes toward scouting and player development. A June 2014 cover of SI famously pronounced the Astros, then coming off three consecutive 100-plus loss seasons, "Your 2017 World Series champs."
"Mejdal was one of Correa's rivals," Chu wrote, noting that the two had "heated discussions" when both worked for the Cardinals. "And now, this rival was being praised, even though his team had not yet begun to win."
That's a pretty interesting read on it, and is - if true - why I believe MLB here. If Correa is motivated by jealousy, then he's going to want to upstage Mejdal and the Astros. Why? To show that he - Correa - is better than Mejdal. Correa was the Cardinals' scouting director. He would naturally want to show that he is better at his job than Mejdal or anyone the Astros had in place to make those decisions. So it's not going to benefit Correa if he runs to GM John Mozeliak or whomever to say "look what I stole from the Astros. Now promote me."
I now fully believe Correa was acting alone, if only because of the motive. What makes absolutely zero sense to me is why Correa leaked the information to Deadspin. The only plausible motive I can find, and it fits with the original one, is to make the Astros look bad. In that, he was successful. Everyone got a good chuckle out of the Astros asking for Xander Bogaerts in exchange for Bud Norris, offering Jarred Cosart and Delino DeShields for Giancarlo Stanton, or Lucas Harrell for Lucas Giolito. Between the losing, the CSN Houston debacle, the leaking, and the Brady Aiken saga, it was a rough few years for the Astros, PR-wise. Correa made that happen.
Ultimately, if Correa had just shut up and routinely accessed Ground Control for his own purposes like a decent thief, it would have been difficult for the Astros to notice. But Correa's hubris brought him down, by leaking the trade talks to Deadspin. That's when the Astros knew something was up, and all fingers pointed to the now-imprisoned Correa.