Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said in October that the league was nearing the end of its investigation into the improper accessing of the Astros’ computer systems by the Cardinals, but no decision has come in the nearly four months since then. It appears that’s about to change. The league could impose sanctions on the Cardinals sometime soon – perhaps as early as the upcoming week – report Dave Barron and Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle.
MLB is nearing a decision thanks to U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes’ choice to unseal details concerning ex-Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa’s hacking of the Astros’ email and player evaluation systems beginning in 2012. Correa, whom the Cardinals fired in 2015 and who was sentenced to a 46-month prison sentence and ordered to pay $279K in July, breached the Astros’ proprietary computer network, “Ground Control,” 48 times and accessed the accounts of five Houston employees, per court documents.
Correa had unlimited access to the email account of Astros director of decision sciences Sig Mejdal, who previously worked with Correa in St. Louis and was “one of Correa’s rivals,” wrote prosecutor and U.S. assistant U.S. attorney Michael Chu in one document. Hacking Mejdal’s email enabled Correa to know “what projects the Astros’ analytics department was researching, what concepts were promising and what ideas to avoid,” per Chu.
Among many other transgressions which Barron and Kaplan detail in a piece that’s definitely worth a full read, Correa used Houston general manager (and former Cardinals employee) Jeff Luhnow’s password to break into the Astros’ system. Correa also studied the Luhnow-led Astros’ trade notes “at least 14 times” leading up to the non-waiver deadline in 2013, according to Chu, who wrote that Correa “was keenly focused on information that coincided with the work he was doing for the Cardinals” and was gaining “invaluable” information from analytics-minded Houston. The Astros went through a “humiliating episode” when their trade notes were leaked to the public in 2015 and had to privately apologize to the majors’ other teams, notes Chu, who believes Correa was behind the leak.
Although the Cardinals fired Correa amid their own investigation into his violations, they could nonetheless face some form of punishment. Manfred lamented in the fall that the league hadn’t gotten enough help from the U.S. attorney’s office, though it appears the newly released information will hasten a decision from MLB.