Phillies Minor Leaguer José Rodríguez Suspended One Year For Betting On Baseball

Written By Dave Briggs on June 4, 2024
José Rodríguez, when he played for the Chicago White Sox. The Reading Fightin Phils shortstop was suspended the same day former Pittsburgh Pirate Tucupita Marcano was banned from baseball for life.

Philadelphia Phillies minor leaguer José Rodríguez (above) has been suspended one year for betting on baseball in a case that also led to a lifetime ban from the sport for San Diego Padres infielder and former Pittsburgh Pirate Tucupita Marcano.

Rodríguez, 23, is a shortstop on the roster of the Phillies’ Double-A affiliate in Reading, PA. He was traded to the Phillies from the Chicago White Sox on April 5 of this year for cash. His gambling violations occurred before he joined the Phillies.

An MLB press release issued Tuesday morning said, in part,

“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, Ala. 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. Rodríguez did not appear in any of the games on which he bet, and he did not make any bets involving his assigned team.”

Former Pirate Marcano banned for life, four others receive one-year suspensions

Tucupita Marcano
Ross D. Franklin / AP Photo

Betting data shows Marcano (above) placed 387 bets on baseball in 2022 and 2023 through a legal sportsbook that was not named by MLB.

It’s not, yet, clear if that operator is one of the 13 legal Pennsylvania sportsbooks.

Those bets included 231 MLB-related wagers. Most of the bets were parlays, some of which included multiple MLB-related legs.

Of the more than $150,000 bet on baseball, Marcano wagered $87,319 on the MLB. Of those MLB bets, 25 of those were on contests involving the Pittsburgh while he was with that team. MLB said Marcano did not bet on any games in which he played. Though, he was on Pittsburgh’s injured list beginning July 24 with a season-ending knee injury.

Marcano was claimed off waives by the Padres last November. He has not played, yet, this year while recovering from ACL surgery. In three MLB seasons, Marcano is batting .217, with five home runs, an OBP of .269 and and OPS of .589.

Apart from Rodríguez, the other minor league players receiving one-year suspensions are:

  • Michael Kelly (Oakland Athletics organization)
  • Jay Groome (Padres organization)
  • Andrew Saalfrank (Arizon Diamondbacks organization)

None of the five players are appealing their suspensions.

The MLB was alerted to the gambling activity by the legal sportsbook. That operator said betting data did not suggest the games in which the players bet was comprised or manipulated in any way.

MLB reports players did not bet on games in which they played

The MLB press release further said, that 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.”

In a statement, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said:

“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.
“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.”

Marcano first active MLB player in 100 years to be banned for gambling

Pete Rose famously agreed to a lifetime ban from baseball. That came after an investigation found he bet on Cincinnati Reds games while managing the team.

The last active MLB player to be banned for gambling was New York Giants outfielder Jimmy O’Connell in 1924.

In April, former Toronto Raptors player Jontay Porter was banned from the NBA for life for violating that league’s gambling rules.

Further, the Porter news broke around the same time Ippei Mizuhara, the interpreter Los Angeles Dodgers’ star Shohei Ohtani, was fired by the team for allegedly betting many millions of dollars on sports through an illegal sportsbook.

On Tuesday, it was reported that Mizuhara is expected to plead guilty to bank and tax fraud. He is also expected to admit to stealing nearly $17 million from Ohtani.

Photo by Nam Y. Huh / AP Photo
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Dave Briggs

Dave Briggs is a managing editor and writer for Catena Media. His expertise is covering the gambling industry in Pennsylvania with an emphasis on online casino, online sports betting and horse racing sectors. He is currently reporting on the gambling industries in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Canada.

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