Ex-Angels infielder David Fletcher under investigation by MLB for alleged illegal gambling

Los Angeles Angels infielder David Fletcher on the field before a game against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum.Oakland^ California - August 10^ 2022

MLB has opened an investigation on Monday into allegations that former Los Angeles Angels infielder and current Atlanta Braves minor leaguer David Fletcher placed bets with Mathew Bowyer, the illegal bookmaker at the center of the Ippei Mizuhara scandal. Mizuhara, Shohei Ohtani’s friend and longtime interpreter, is alleged to have stolen over $16 million from Ohtani to cover his gambling debts; Ohtani and Fletcher were teammates with the Angels from 2018-23, and are said to be close friends.  Meanwhile Mizuhara entered a not guilty plea earlier this week as he negotiates a plea deal with prosecutors; he is facing up to 33 years in prison for bank fraud, among other charges.

ESPN reported Friday that Fletcher, 29, who is currently playing for the Atlanta Braves’ Triple-A affiliate, bet on sports — but not baseball — with Mathew Bowyer, the Southern California bookmaker who took wagers from Mizuhara. Fletcher’s friend Colby Schultz, a former Kansas City Royals minor leaguer, also bet with Bowyer and wagered on baseball, including on Angels games that Fletcher played in while he was on the team, according to sources.

MLB source said that ‘government cooperation will be crucial in a case like this where we don’t have evidence,” with MLB investigators planning to interview with Fletcher at some point (though he has the right to refuse cooperation if he can claim he could be the subject of a criminal investigation). MLB sources have said that if a player bets illegally on sports other than baseball, it’s likely they would receive a fine rather than a suspension. Players and team personnel are forbidden from betting on baseball, even legally, and can face up to a lifetime ban if they do so. Any baseball-related discipline, including a lifetime ban, is up to the discretion of commissioner Rob Manfred.

Fletcher, a career .276/.323/.358 hitter, signed a five-year extension worth $26 million in April 2021, however the Angels traded him to the Braves in a salary dump trade this past offseason, who then proceeded to place Fletcher on waivers, where he went unclaimed.

Editorial credit: Conor P. Fitzgerald / Shutterstock.com

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