One of Rob Manfred's biggest tests so far as commissioner will be his upcoming decision on whether to impose penalties against the St. Louis Cardinals organization in light of the hacking scandal involving former scouting director Chris Correa. On Friday, Correa pleaded guilty in federal court to hacking into the Houston Astros' player database and email system, allegedly to view important information including draft lists, potential international signings, trade talks with other teams and evaluations of players both on the amateur and professional levels.
Correa -- who pleaded guilty to to five counts of unauthorized access of a protected computer from 2013 to at least 2014, the same year he was promoted to director of baseball development in St. Louis -- even allegedly hacked into the system after the Houston organization had changed URLs and passwords. The timing of the hacks were said to include periods during spring training, before and during the 2013 amateur draft, and on the day of the 2013 trade deadline. U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson valued the information St. Louis attained at about $1.7 million, which is nowhere close to the potential value the organization gained in terms of concept and information; that could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, depending on how much the information affected the organization's decisions and the ramifications those decisions could have had not only on the Astros, but every team in baseball.
The Cardinals picking near the end of each round of the 2013 draft and the Astros at the beginning. So why is that important? Because it means St. Louis drafted players just ahead of Houston 39 times, and only Correa knows how many of those picks changed because of the intelligence he had received from the Astros' database, evaluations and draft board priority lists.