Diamondbacks reliever Andrew Saalfrank suspended 1 year by MLB for sports betting

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Andrew Saalfrank was suspended for one year Tuesday for betting on sports. (Photo courtesy of Alex Weiner/Arizona Sports)

LOS ANGELES – Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Andrew Saalfrank was among four players MLB suspended Tuesday for sports betting. The league also banned San Diego Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano for life.

Saalfrank is on assignment with the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate Reno Aces. During the league’s investigation, he was found to have violated MLB’s sports gambling policy, rule 21(d)(1).

“Betting data shows that from September 9, 2021 through October 29, 2021, and on March 9, 2022, Saalfrank placed 29 baseball bets, including 28 MLB-related bets and one parlay bet on college baseball games, while he was on a Minor League contract with the Diamondbacks,” an MLB press release said. “Saalfrank placed all of his MLB-related bets, including four bets involving the Diamondbacks’ Major League team, while he was assigned to and on the Injured List of the Diamondbacks’ Low-A affiliate.

“In total, Saalfrank bet $445.87 on baseball, with $444.07 of that on MLB-related bets (an average of approximately $15.86 per bet) and with a net loss of $272.64 on MLB bets. Ultimately, Saalfrank only won five of his 28 MLB-related bets and lost his $1.80 college bet.”

Saalfrank was never on a major league roster during any of his bets. There were no records of bets placed on the Reno Aces, MLB said, and there is no evidence that he had inside information or manipulated any games on which he bet. Saalfrank denies any effort to change the outcome of a game while gambling.

“He made a bad decision,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “The rules are very clearly outlined. They’re told to the players several times during spring training. There’s something on the wall in spring training that prohibits betting. The reason is simple. We have to protect the integrity of this game. Andrew knew that. He understood that. And he made a really bad decision.”

The league was informed about the betting activity by a legal sports betting operator. The other players reported by the betting operator were Oakland Athletics pitcher Michael Kelly, San Diego Padres pitcher Jay Groome and Philadelphia Phillies infielder José Rodríguez.

MLB’s Rule 21 is posted inside of every clubhouse and states that betting on any baseball game in which a player, umpire, league official or team employee has no duty to perform results in a one-year suspension. Betting on a game in which the person has a duty to perform results in a lifetime ban.

“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,” baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.

“The longstanding prohibition against betting on Major League Baseball games by those in the sport has been a bedrock principle for over a century. We have been clear that the privilege of playing in baseball comes with a responsibility to refrain from engaging in certain types of behavior that are legal for other people.”

Sports Digital Reporter, Los Angeles

William Osborne expects to graduate in December 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and an minor in film. Osborne hopes to be a sports beat writer for a major league team.