Yesterday, Judge Lynn Hughes sentenced Christopher Correa to 46 months in Club Fed. At first blush, the sentence seems harsh to me. Four years in federal prison for seeing how another club evaluates 19 year-old shortstops in the low minors? C’mon. It’s not as if Correa committed a violent crime or forced the Astros into bankruptcy. In March 2016, Forbes valued the Astros at $1.1 billion and estimated the team received an annual revenue of $270 million.
So why almost four years? Was it the perceived value of the trade secret information? The Astros valued the information at over $1 million. I don’t know much about the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, but I assume the value of the information stolen/accessed drives the sentence.
Also, Correa apparently accessed the information more frequently than originally reported. He apparently claimed he accessed the information a handful of times. The reports yesterday suggest Correa accessed the information more like sixty times. The discrepancy couldn’t have helped Correa.
I’d love to read the pre-sentence report. Unfortunately, the Court sealed it (as is routine).
Some unanswered questions:
- Did anyone else within the Cards’ organization know Correa infiltrated Ground Control?
- How did Correa use the information? Did the Cards benefit in a direct way? Did the team target a particular player based on the information? Did the Cards try to drive up the price on a player knowing the Astros wanted him?
- What does the league want to discover in its investigation? Will it punish the Cards?
I think this sentence is a huge wake-up call. I don’t anticipate many baseball men will risk real jail time to gain a marginal (at best) competitive edge in player evaluation. The sentence is a stronger deterrent than any penalty imposed by MLB.