MLB investigating Braves offseason signing linked to Shohei Ohtani gambling scandal

One of Atlanta's infielders now finds himself at the center of an MLB investigation.

Texas Rangers v Atlanta Braves
Texas Rangers v Atlanta Braves / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Back in March, we reported that Braves infielder David Fletcher had a connection to the gambling controversy surrounding Shohei Ohtani's interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. Fletcher was a teammate of Ohtani from 2018 to 2023 and has often been described as one of his closest friends in baseball.

Fletcher was present at a poker game where Mizuhara first met Southern California bookmaker Mathew Bowyer. Bowyer supposedly gained entry to the poker game at the team hotel through an acquaintance of Fletcher.

The infielder stated back in March that he was present at the 2021 poker game in San Diego where Mizuhara first met Bowyer and said he never placed a bet himself with Bowyer's organization.

However, ESPN reported on Friday that the Atlanta infielder allegedly bet on sports, not including baseball, through an illegal bookmaker. The bookmaker in question is the aforementioned Mathew Bowyer.

It was also revealed that Fletcher's close friend Colby Schultz, who is a former minor leaguer, also bet with Bowyer and wagered on baseball games. This allegedly included games that Fletcher played in while he was with the Angels organization.

MLB investigating Braves' infielder David Fletcher amid gambling allegations

All of this has led to Major League Baseball opening an investigation into the gambling allegations.

This is not what the Braves had in mind when they brought Fletcher to Atlanta in a trade this offseason. However, these are things that are out of the team's control. Fletcher hasn't commented on the announcement of the investigation yet.

According to the report by ESPN's T.J. Quinn, "MLB investigators will request an interview with Fletcher at some point, but he has the right to refuse cooperation if he can claim he could be the subject of a criminal investigation."

Quinn also reported that Fletcher could continue to appear in games during the MLB investigation, according to information provided by a source.

The second baseman is currently with Atlanta's Triple-A affiliate, the Gwinnett Stripers, and has a .244 average with 29 hits including two doubles, 16 RBI, 12 walks, and 14 strikeouts. He did play this past weekend for Gwinnett and the Braves will likely keep him there as the process plays out.

According to another article by ESPN's Tisha Thompson, "MLB players and employees are allowed to bet on sports other than baseball -- but not with illegal bookmakers such as Bowyer. The league rulebook states that players betting with illegal bookmakers are subject to punishment at the commissioner's discretion. A player who bets on baseball games in which he did not participate will be banned for one year. Any player who bets on his own games will be banned permanently."

As mentioned earlier, David Fletcher is alleged to have bet on sports but it did not include baseball, according to sources. If a player is found to have betted illegally but not on baseball, they would likely receive a fine rather than a suspension.

This is not something the Braves would like to have to worry about, especially with how poorly things have been going for the team as of late. This just adds another layer of distraction for the organization. However, Fletcher being at the minor league level could help mitigate any hardship for the big league club.

We will continue to provide updates as this situation develops.

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