Though it might have seemed the Chris Correa hacking case would fade into the background, it is not yet the case.
Reportedly through family members, the now-jailed former St. Louis Cardinals scouting director issued a surprise statement via Twitter on Tuesday, the day after Major League Baseball announced penalties in which the Cardinals will send money and draft picks to the Houston Astros as punishment to his former employer for his misdeeds.
In his Tuesday statement, Correa reiterates his claim that the Astros accessed proprietary Cardinals information and accuses MLB of applying sanctions “arbitrarily”. He asserts the Cardinals were not the ones that “benefited from unauthorized access”.
Correa wrote that he offered to meet twice with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred – in May and June 2015 – but was ignored. Though not mentioned in his statement, it is important to remember that Correa was still a Cardinals employee at that point and had not been identified publicly as being involved in anything.
Statement regarding MLB Cooperation pic.twitter.com/MBwYoZ48PN
— Chris Correa (@chriscorrea) January 31, 2017
The Federal investigation, which had already been underway for months, was first disclosed to the public by the New York Times on June 16, 2015. Correa did not specify when in June his offer was made.
What Correa also does not explain is why he reportedly refused to cooperate with MLB investigators later on.
Manfred said all along that MLB would
be unable to not carry out its own probe until the Federal work was done. Given that, it does not seem surprising that Manfred would not want to meet with Correa during the first half of 2015, while the Federal investigation was still very active.
Even though Correa had been fired by the Cardinals in early July 2015, he was not charged with any crimes until his guilty plea was announced in January 2016. He was sentenced in July and reported to prison in late August 2016.
In other words, Manfred was not ready or able to start his investigation until 2016, months after Correa says he had come forward with his offers to meet.
My sense, albeit from the distance, is that it appears Correa was willing to talk when he thought it could help him, but any offer of cooperation seemed to end as his troubles mounted.
Another interesting disclosure
Also on Tuesday morning, Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. appeared on the Bernie Miklasz radio show in St. Louis. Though I was not listening, one of the live tweets from the show’s Twitter account included the following:
#StlCards Bill DeWitt Jr. "(Correa) told other people in the Cards organization that (Houston) had taken information from the team"
— Bernie Miklasz Show (@BernieShow) January 31, 2017
From my point of view, this is significant news. This is the first time I have seen the Cardinals admit what seemed highly likely to most of us all along – that Correa had shared his concern that the Astros had stolen Cardinals information with other team employees. This backs up similar comments Correa made under oath.
What remains unsaid is who the others were and why they were not disciplined for not coming forward. Or did they come forward?
DeWitt and general manager John Mozeliak were clear from the very start that they were unaware of the hacking until contacted by the Feds. But does that also mean they were unaware of Correa’s allegations that Houston stole Cardinals’ information? Or did they learn of his concerns and decide to not pursue the matter?
If the latter occurred, could it have contributed to a potentially disgruntled Correa going rogue, escalating his illegal access over months and months, yet unknown to all others around him? If so, it could help explain why the Cardinals organization was considered partially accountable by MLB.
Some interesting potential twists may remain in a case that seemed wrapped up just yesterday.
Mid-day Tuesday, Manfred issued the following statement. It is consistent with my conclusions above.
One interesting side point is that it suggests Correa’s lifetime ban from baseball was not due to his hacking, but because of his later unwillingness to cooperate.
MLB just issued a statement in response to Cardinals hacker Chris Correa's statement.
— Big League Stew (@bigleaguestew) January 31, 2017
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