Padres’ Tucupita Marcano Banned, Four Others Suspended Amid MLB Gambling Probe

For the first time since 1924, an active MLB player has been banned for life amid a gambling probe from the league.

MLB announced a lifetime ban for Tucupita Marcano at 10:20 a.m. ET on Tuesday. The San Diego Padres infielder was on the injured list with the Pittsburgh Pirates when baseball’s Department of Investigations determined the 24-year-old bet on MLB games involving his own team in 2023.

The Padres claimed Marcano off waivers in the offseason, but he remained sidelined in 2024 as he recovered from the torn ACL he sustained on July 24, 2023.

Major League Baseball confirmed that Marcano did not take the field in any of the games that he bet on in their statement:

“In March 2024, MLB learned from a legal sports betting operator that it had identified past baseball betting activity from accounts connected to multiple Major and Minor League players. MLB obtained data from that operator and other sportsbooks, including authentication data for bets.

“None of these players played in any game on which they placed a bet. Further, all of the players denied that they had any inside information relevant to the bets or that any of the baseball games they bet on were compromised or manipulated, and the betting data does not suggest that any outcomes in the baseball games on which they placed bets were compromised, influenced, or manipulated in any way. None of the players are appealing their discipline.”

‘Rule 21’ Bans Tucupita Marcano for Life

Pete Rose was retired when the MLB all-time hits leader received his lifetime ban for betting on baseball. Marcano is believed to be the first active player to receive a lifetime ban since New York Giants outfielder Jimmy O’Connell was caught placing bets in 1924.

Rule 21 suspends any player, umpire, club, or Major League employee from betting “any sum whatsoever” on baseball. Marcano specifically received his lifetime ban because he bet on games involving his own team.

MLB investigators say:

  • Marcano placed 387 baseball bets from Oct. 16-23, 2022, and again from July 12 to Nov. 1, 2023. The ACL injury kept him sidelined for most of the 2023 transactions.
  • The bets totaled over $150,000, including $87,319 on MLB games.
  • 25 of the bets involved the Pirates while he was a member of the organization.
  • Almost all of the bets were on the Pirates to win. Marcano also bet on run totals.
  • Marcano won only 4.3% of his MLB-related bets and went winless on all parlay bets involving the Pirates.

One-Year Suspensions from MLB Gambling Probe

Baseball handed down one-year suspensions to four players who placed bets during their time Minor League system.

MLB cited Oakland A’s pitcher Michael Kelly for bets he placed from Oct. 5-17, 2021. He was a member of Houston’s AAA affiliate in Sugar Land, TX, at the time. He bet $99.22 on 10 MLB games and netted $28.30 on the bets.

Padres Minor League pitcher Jay Groome placed 32 MLB bets — totaling $453.74 — from July 22, 2020, to July 24, 2021. 24 of the bets involved Groome’s time with the Boston Red Sox organization. Groome was a member of their High-A affiliate in Greenville, SC, at the time.

Philadelphia Phillies Minor League infielder Jose Rodriguez placed 31 baseball bets with a stake of $749.09. He placed his first bet(s) on Sept. 30, 2021, and continued betting from June 5 to July 30, 2022. At the time, he was with the Chicago White Sox’s AA affiliate in Birmingham, AL. Seven of his bets involved the White Sox.

Arizona Diamondbacks Minor League pitcher Andrew Saalfrank placed 29 baseball bets totaling $445.87 from Sept. 9 to Oct. 29, 2021. Four of the bets involved the Diamondbacks. Injuries sidelined Saalfrank, and he was with Arizona’s Low-A affiliate at the time of the wagers.

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About the Author
Russ Mitchell

Russ Mitchell

Lead Writer
Russ Mitchell joined Gaming Today as a lead writer in February 2023 after joining Catena Media in 2021 as a managing editor for the PlayIA and PlayVA brands. He covers sports betting industry news market developments, the college sports betting industry, and the four major North American pro sports leagues. With 25+ years of journalism experience to Gaming Today. He is a five-time winner of the Iowa’s prestigious Harrison “Skip” Weber Investigative Reporting award, a two-time National Newspaper Association award winner and a 50-time Iowa Newspaper Association award winner.

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