Diamondbacks reliever Andrew Saalfrank suspended by MLB for sports betting

Jun 4, 2024, 7:31 AM | Updated: 8:03 am

Andrew Saalfrank of the Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training at Salt River Fields....

Andrew Saalfrank of the Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training at Salt River Fields. (Arizona Sports Photo/Alex Weiner)

(Arizona Sports Photo/Alex Weiner)

Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Andrew Saalfrank, who is currently assigned to the minors, is among four players suspended a year for impermissible sports betting, the league announced Tuesday.

MLB permanently banned San Diego Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano for betting on his former team and suspended four other players for one year after finding the players placed unrelated bets with a legal sportsbook.

Marcano appears to be the first active major leaguer banned under the sport’s gambling provision since New York Giants outfielder Jimmy O’Connell in 1924. Pete Rose, baseball’s active career hits leader, famously agreed to a lifetime ban in 1989 after an investigation concluded he bet on Cincinnati Reds games while managing the team.

One other big leaguer, Oakland Athletics pitcher Michael Kelly, was declared ineligible for one year on Tuesday for betting on baseball while he was in the minor leagues. Additionally, minor leaguers Jay Groome of San Diego, José Rodríguez of Philadelphia and Saalfrank were banned for one year for betting on major league games.

What was found in MLB’s investigation about Andrew Saalfrank’s sports betting?

Saalfrank has only appeared in two games for Arizona this year and is pitching in the minors. He played in 10 regular season games and 11 playoff outings last year, posting a 1.94 WHIP across 5.2 postseason innings, including three World Series games.

MLB found Saalfrank bet on the D-backs before he made the major league roster and when he was in the minor league system from 2021-22.

He did not bet on the minor league team in which he was assigned during that span. There is no evidence that he manipulated anything he bet on, and he denied he attempted to change the outcome of any of the games he bet on.

He violated MLB’s sports betting policy’s Rule 21(d)(1):

“Betting data shows that from September 9, 2021 through October 29, 2021, and on March 9, 2022, Saalfrank placed 29 baseball bets, including 28 MLB-related bets and one parlay bet on college baseball games, while he was on a Minor League contract with the Diamondbacks,” the press release said. “Saalfrank placed all of his MLB-related bets, including four bets involving the Diamondbacks’ Major League team, while he was assigned to and on the Injured List of the Diamondbacks’ Low-A affiliate.

“In total, Saalfrank bet $445.87 on baseball, with $444.07 of that on MLB-related bets (an average of approximately $15.86 per bet) and with a net loss of $272.64 on MLB bets. Ultimately, Saalfrank only won five of his 28 MLB-related bets and lost his $1.80 college bet.”

MLB hands down suspensions to 5 players for sports betting

The league said it was tipped off about the betting activity by a legal sports betting operator. None of the players punished played in any games on which they wagered, and all players denied to MLB they had inside information relevant to their bets or the games they bet on – testimonies that MLB says align with the data received from the sportsbook.

“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,” Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “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.”

Marcano was found to have placed 387 baseball bets, including 231 MLB-related wagers, between Oct. 16, 2022, and Nov. 1, 2023, totaling over $150,000. The league says 25 of those bets included wagers on Pittsburgh Pirates games while he was on the team’s major league roster.

However, he did not appear in any of those games because he was on the injured list following a season-ending knee injury. He was receiving medical treatment at PNC Park during that time. Marcano bet almost exclusively on the outcomes of games and lost all of his parlay bets involving the Pirates, winning just 4.3% of all of his MLB-related bets.

Major League Rule 21, posted in every clubhouse, states betting on any baseball game in which a player, umpire, league official or team employee has no duty to perform results in a one-year suspension. Betting on a game in which the person has a duty to perform results in a lifetime ban.

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