More MLB players suspended for gambling, including top Oakland reliever Michael Kelly, World Series pitcher Andrew Saalfrank

After San Diego Padres utility player Tucupita Marcano received a lifetime ban for betting on baseball, it was revealed that four other players have received suspensions for gambling as well.

MLB said that Marcano placed 387 bets totaling over $150,000, 231 of which were related to the major leagues. Of those bets, 25 were placed on Pittsburgh Pirates games while he was on their roster. He did not appear in any of those games, however.

It was also revealed that at least four other players had been suspended for placing bets. This included fellow MLB player Michael Kelly, who, statistically speaking, is one of the Oakland Athletics’ top relief pitchers with just a 2.59 ERA in 28 appearances.

He was found to have placed 10 bets on nine MLB games between October 5-17, 2021, when he was a minor league player. He wagered on outcomes, over/under on runs, and individual pitcher strikeout totals. He wagered $99.22 and won $28.30.

Kelly was declared ineligible for one year for betting on baseball. He last appeared in Triple-A in 2023.

‘There are more people involved in this than people want to believe’

Pitcher Michael KellyPhoto by Ezra Shaw via Getty Images

Jay Groome was another San Diego Padres player to receive a gambling-related suspension. He received a year for betting on major league games.

The 25-year-old placed 32 MLB-related bets between July 2020 and August 2021, which included 24 bets on the Boston Red Sox while he was assigned to their High-A affiliate. He wagered a total of $453.74 and had a net loss of $433.54.

Groome has played three games in the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate in 2024.

Jose Rodriguez of the Philadelphia Phillies organization also received a yearlong ban for betting on MLB games. Rodriguez is a regular starter for the Phillies Double-A affiliate, having played 38 games in 2024.

Rodriguez made 31 bets, 28 on MLB, three on college baseball. He bet on outcomes and runs scored, wagering a total of $749.09.

Pitcher Jay GroomePhoto by Norm Hall via Getty Images

The fourth player to be suspended for a year for gambling on major league games was Andrew Saalfrank. The left-handed pitcher last played for the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 29, 2024, appearing in just two games for the team this season. He has appeared in 18 games in Triple-A.

In 2023, he pitched in 21 games in the season and playoffs, including three in the World Series. He bet 29 times on baseball between September and the end of October 2021. He again bet on March 9, 2022. His baseball bets totaled $445.87; he lost $272.64 on MLB wagers, winning just five of his bets.

MLB revealed that it was tipped off about the betting activity by a legal sports-betting operator. The league also noted that none of the players who have been punished played in any game that they wagered on, and it denied having inside information relevant to their bets.

MLB reportedly said that the information aligned with what it was told by the betting company.

Pitcher Andrew SaalfrankPhoto by John E. Moore III via Getty Images

“There are more people involved in this than people want to believe,” said baseball analyst Gary Sheffield Jr. “If the MLB was serious about this issue, they’d put integrity over the money, but money will always be number one,” he continued.

“We may find it striking how often players that are caught gambling are not that good. If you’re a good enough player, the league is able to make this problem go away.”

“We’ll never have a full understanding of the investigations, nor will we know how valuable players are seemingly not caught,” Sheffield added.

Sheffield said that an attempt to make mid-season games more exciting with gambling has opened up “Pandora’s box,” and the risk of growing the game has come with drawbacks. The writer and podcaster added that it’s going to be a rough road for these suspended players, given that they will likely lose a year’s worth of service time.

The (literal) payoff for these baseball players will always be an intriguing line of questioning, seeing as most of them do not make money.

Marcano won just 4.3% of his MLB-related bets.

That’s an incredibly low payoff compared to former NBA player Jontay Porter, who received a lifetime ban from his league in April 2024. He had $21,965 in alleged winnings but also allegedly told a bettor about his health status for the purpose of gambling. The bettor then placed an $80,000 parlay proposition with an online sports book to win $1.1 million dollars.

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