go to content

Former St. Louis Cardinals Scouting Executive Pleads Guilty To Hacking Houston Astros

The FBI began investigating the team in 2015.

Originally posted on
Updated on

The St. Louis Cardinals' former director of scouting pleaded guilty Friday to five charges related to hacking into the Houston Astros' database.

Chris Correa was fired by the Cardinals in July after the FBI announced it was investigating the team for illegally accessing the Astros' scouting database.

Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow had previously worked for the Cardinals' analytics department, and established the database the team uses for scouting and drafting. He took his position with the Astros in 2011. Correa had worked under Luhnow with the Cardinals from 2009 until his departure.

Luhnow created a similar scouting database in Houston and Correa became suspicious that the Astros were accessing the the one he created for the Cardinals. In July, the St. Louis Dispatch reported the events as follows:

The source said that Correa's involvement in the hacking began in 2013, in an attempt to determine whether Luhnow or any other former Cardinals employees took proprietary data to the Astros.

Correa's suspicions were aroused in part by a résumé in which a job seeker claimed expertise that Correa believed could have come only from working with Cardinals data, the source said.

In a document unsealed Friday, the federal government listed the allegations against Correa:

• March 2013: "Correa accessed Victim A's [Luhnow] Ground Control account, and downloaded an Excel file of the Astros' scouting list of every player eligible for that year's draft, and how each Astros scout ranked them."

• June 2013, during the MLB draft: Correa logged in again to Luhnow's Ground Control account and accessed data about prospects the Astros had taken, a player another team had taken, and "three players whom the Cardinals had drafted the day before."

• July 2013, MLB trade deadline: "Correa again accessed Victim A's Ground Control account and viewed the Astros' notes on its trade discussions with other teams."

In March 2014: The Astros made system changes to Ground Control following a story about the database in the Houston Chronicle. Concerned with privacy, the Astros did a system-wide password reset for Ground Control accounts. The government alleges Correa then "accessed Victim A's Astros e-mail account without authorization. There, he found the e-mails that contained Ground Control's new URL and the newly reset password." He then continued to browse the database, viewing "118 pages containing confidential information."

Beyond legal sanctions imposed on Correa, and any potential other Cardinals employees found to be involved, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred can impose fines and other punishments on the team. Per league rules, teams can not sue each other.

Astros General Counsel Giles Kibbe released a statement shortly after Correa's plea:

We appreciate the thorough effort of the FBI and U.S. Attorney's office in their investigation of these criminal acts. It is important that we respect the process and not comment on the details at this time. This is a difficult day for all of Major League Baseball. The Astros refute Mr. Correa's statement that our database contained any information that was proprietary to the St. Louis Cardinals. We have a great amount of respect for Bill DeWitt and the Cardinals organization. And, we are confident that Commissioner Manfred will guide MLB through this process in the best way possible.

MLB released a short statement as well:

Major League Baseball appreciates the efforts of federal law enforcement authorities in investigating the illegal breach of the Astros' baseball operations database, and identifying the perpetrator of this crime. We anticipate that the authorities wills hare with us the results of their investigation at the appropriate time, and we will determine what further actions to take after receiving all the relevant information.

Read the full charging document below:

Lindsey Adler is a sports reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Lindsey Adler at lindsey.adler@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.