The FBI and the Justice Department’s investigation into whether St. Louis Cardinals front office personnel hacked into a network used by the Houston Astros was launched after documents from the network were posted to a hacking forum, according to Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times.
The documents were originally posted online at Anonbin.com, an anonymous forum used for sharing hacked or leaked information, and were later obtained by Deadspin and published in 2014.
While the hacked database reportedly also contained “proprietary statistics and scouting reports,” the leaked documents focused on internal discussions about trades covering the month leading up to the 2013 trade deadline (July 31) and several months of the offseason leading up to the 2014 season.
The most eye-opening revelation was that the Houston Astros had a very good shot to trade for Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, one of the biggest young stars in the sport, but balked at the asking price. Here is the relevant memo posted by Deadspin:
“[Astros GM Jeff Luhnow] talked to [Marlins GM Dan Jennings] and said we had interest in Stanton. DJ said he doesn’t think he’ll trade Stanton and the only deal he could think of from us that would work would be [George] Springer and [Carlos] Correa. JL said that would not work. JL posited a deal around [Jarred] Cosart and [Delino] Deshields.”
On the surface, the chance to land one of the best young hitters in baseball would be a no-brainer for the Astros and it is a little shocking that it doesn’t appear that they pursued this further. At the same time, there were good reasons for the Astros to reject the deal.
At the time, both Springer (No. 37) and Correa (No. 13) were among the top 40 prospects in baseball, according to Baseball America. The Astros were also neck-deep in a rebuilding project focusing on young and inexpensive talent. They also still a couple of years away from contending and it is easy to imagine that the front office plan was being built around those two players.
In addition, while Stanton was still three years away from potential free agency in 2013, he was just months away from getting his first big payday as an arbitration-eligible player. He eventually signed a one-year, $US5.5 million contract for the 2014 season before agreeing to a record $US325 million contract this past off-season.
Whether or not the Astros would have ever been able to sign Stanton to a long-term extension is anybody’s guess. But based on how they have operated in recent years, it is unlikely that they would have ever offered $US325 million and Stanton may have eventually left the team following the 2016 season, if not sooner via a trade.
Meanwhile, Springer has been a key piece for the first-place Astros this season, on pace to hit .269 with a .373 OBP and 25 home runs, while Correa entered the season as Baseball America’s No. 6 prospect and was recently called up by the Astros.
Still, it is hard to deny Stanton’s talent as one of the two or three best young hitters in baseball and one of the biggest young stars in sports. That kind of player doesn’t come along very often and if you have a chance to get him, it is hard to pass up.
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