Former Padres Infielder Banned For Life Over Betting Violations

Written By Dan Holmes on June 4, 2024
Tucupita Marcano, ex-Padre, has received a lifetime MLB ban for betting on his own team.

Former San Diego Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano has received a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball for betting violations, including betting on his own team when he was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Four other professional baseball players were also disciplined for violating the MLB’s rules on gambling.

Marcano played a short time for the Padres in 2021.

Marcano placed bets in 2023 while on IL with torn ACL

The Venezuelan was not accused of betting while he was a member of the Padres where California sports betting remains illegal.

Marcano made his MLB debut with San Diego in April 2021. He batted .182 in 25 games for the Padres while playing second base, some at third base, and in the outfield. San Diego traded Marcano in July 2021 to the Pirates in a four-player deal. He spent parts of 2022 and 2023 with the Pirates, batting .221 with five home runs and seven stolen bases in 124 games.

Marcano tore his ACL last July and has not played since. The Padres selected him off of waivers last November but did not give him a contract offer this past spring as he was recovering from the injury.

Allegedly, Marcano placed bets with a prominent sportsbook on the Pirates while he was on the Injured List in 2023. According to MLB, he wagered as much as $150,000 through more than 400 bets. He typically wagered on his own team, with his preferred bet type an over/under on total runs scored or outright winner of the game. The report has not specified whether he tended to bet the under on his team.

He did not wager on games where he was active. Marcano lost all his parlay bets, per the Associated Press, and won only 4.3% of all his MLB bets.

Four other players placed bets while in minor league

Along with the lifetime ban of Marcano, the MLB  suspended four players for gambling violations. Only Oakland A’s reliever Michael Kelly was on an active MLB roster when the suspensions came down. He has been a solid reliever for the A’s in 2024, posting a 2.59 ERA in 28 games with a 151 ERA+.

The three minor league players suspended were Jay Groome in the Padres’ organization, José Rodríguez in the Philadelphia Phillies organization, and Andrew Saalfrank, a pitcher in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ minor league system. Kelly and the minor league players were suspended for one year.

According to ESPN and CBS Sports, a sports betting operator tipped off the MLB that Marcano and the others were placing bets on their own sport. MLB prohibits its players, whether in the majors or minor leagues, to wager on baseball or softball. Wagering on your own team is a violation that can result in a lifetime ban.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said the harsh punishments were warranted.

“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.”

An investigation by MLB found that Groome, Kelly, Rodríguez, and Saalfrank placed bets on games that did not involve their teams. Though, in some cases, they wagered on their parent club while they were in the minors. The MLB said Groome placed 32 bets, Kelly made 10 bets, and Rodríguez and Saalfrank each placed 28 bets.

Pete Rose received a lifetime ban 35 years ago

The action by MLB comes after the NBA permanently banned Jontay Porter for life earlier this spring. Porter placed player prop bets on himself, and allegedly faked injuries to influence the outcome of wagers.

Earlier this year, MLB’s biggest superstar, Shohei Ohtani, became embroiled in a gambling scandal. Ohtani’s interpreter and Los Angeles Dodger employee, Ippei Mizuhara, allegedly embezzled as much as $16 million from the two-time MVP to pay his own gambling debts incurred with an illegal bookmaker.

Mizuhara faces several felony charges and time in prison. MLB and legal authorities have stated that Ohtani is a victim rather than a suspect in the incident.

MLB has long had rules in place prohibiting certain gambling activity. Most famously it suspended Pete Rose indefinitely, ruling him “permanently ineligible” in 1989 when the commissioner said Rose had bet on baseball games he managed.

Photo by Lindsey Wasson / AP Images
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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is a contributor for PlayCA with plenty of experience under his belt. Dan has written three books about sports and previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. He also has extensive experience covering the launch of sports betting in other states, including Ohio, Massachusetts and Maryland. Currently, Dan is residing in Michigan with his family.

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