The U.S. Department of Justice and FBI have launched an investigation into the recruitment of international players by MLB teams, according to a report Tuesday by Sports Illustrated.
The "sweeping probe," as Sports Illustrated refers to it, is exploring "possible corruption" within the recruitment of international players, "centered on potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act."
One of the teams most prominently mentioned in FBI files obtained by Sports Illustrated are the Dodgers, who Gabe Kapler served as director of player development starting in 2014 before being named manager of the Phillies last October.
Here is a glaring portion of Sports Illustrated's report, referencing a document highlighting a time in which Kapler worked for the Dodgers.
One particularly remarkable document shows that Dodgers executives in 2015 went so far as to develop a database that measured the perceived “level of egregious behavior” displayed by 15 of their own employees in Latin America. That is, using a scale of 1 to 5—“innocent bystander” to “criminal”—front-office executives assessed their own staff’s level of corruption. Five employees garnered a “criminal” rating.
Kapler did not return messages from Sports Illustrated seeking comment, according to the report. A Dodgers spokesman last week referred all questions to Major League Baseball officials in New York, per the report.
"We had heard there was an investigation coming," one top baseball official said to Sports Illustrated about the overall probe. "But we didn't know it was a DOJ matter. I don't want to speculate, but, yeah, this could get interesting."
In a separate matter, before hiring their new manager, the Phillies carefully investigated a story in which Nick Francona, an assistant director of player development for the Dodgers, made charges of discrimination against the Dodgers and Kapler following the termination of his contract (see story).
The Phillies went 80-82 in their first season under Kapler, a 14-win improvement from 2017 heavily overshadowed by an 8-20 mark in September.