Major League Baseball
MLB reportedly opens gambling investigation into ex-Angel David Fletcher
Major League Baseball

MLB reportedly opens gambling investigation into ex-Angel David Fletcher

Published May. 20, 2024 2:27 p.m. ET

Major League Baseball has opened an investigation into former Los Angeles Angels player David Fletcher for gambling on sports with the same bookmaker who took bets from Shohei Ohtani's former interpreter, ESPN reported. The Associated Press first reported on Saturday that the league was expected to investigate Fletcher.

ESPN reported Friday night that Fletcher placed bets with Mathew Bowyer, an alleged illegal bookmaker in Southern California who is under federal investigation. Federal prosecutors say Ippei Mizuhara stole nearly $17 million from Ohtani to pay off sports gambling debts during a years-long scheme, at times impersonating the Dodgers superstar to bankers. Ohtani has publicly claimed he was unaware of his former interpreter's gambling habits and did not authorize any payments to Bowyer's operation.

Sources told ESPN that Fletcher, who currently is with the Atlanta Braves' Triple-A affiliate, bet on several sports, but not on baseball.

MLB has not yet commented publicly on the Fletcher report.


The league's gambling policy prohibits players and team employees from wagering on baseball, even legally. Betting on another team's baseball games is subject to a year ban, while betting on games involving one's own team would incur a lifetime ban akin to the one handed to MLB all-time hits leader Pete Rose in 1989.

MLB also bans betting on other sports with illegal or offshore bookmakers, but the penalty for that is at the discretion of the commissioner's office, and in the past it has typically been in the form of a fine. MLB does permit team employees to bet on other sports through legal means.

Fletcher was a teammate of Ohtani's during the Japanese two-way sensation's six years with the Angels, and the two were described as close, as one became a two-time American League MVP and the other became a reliable middle infielder for his hometown team. Ohtani signed a 10-year, $700-million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers last December, while Fletcher was traded to the Atlanta Braves. He is now with the Triple-A Gwinnett Stripers.

Diane Bass, Bowyer's lawyer, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles and the Ballengee Group, Fletcher's baseball representation, declined to comment on the ESPN report.

Mizuhara pleaded not guilty Tuesday to bank and tax fraud, a formality ahead of a plea deal he negotiated with prosecutors and signed on May 5 in a wide-ranging sports betting case.

In a March interview, Fletcher told ESPN he was present at a 2021 poker game in San Diego where Mizuhara first met Bowyer. Fletcher said he knew Bowyer was a bookmaker, but insisted at the time that he never placed a bet with Bowyer's operation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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