(The Sports Xchange) - The St. Louis Cardinals were ordered to pay $2 million in damages by Major League Baseball on Monday and will forfeit their first two picks in the 2017 draft as a result of illegal computer hacking of the Houston Astros' database.
MLB completed its investigation regarding the breach of the Astros' baseball operations database by a former Cardinals' employee, scouting director Chris Correa.
Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the ruling, ordering the overall Nos. 56 and 75 draft picks of the Cardinals to be awarded to Houston, and for the Cardinals to pay the Astros $2 million within 30 days.
In his ruling, Manfred said the investigation found no evidence that anyone besides Correa was responsible for accessing the Astros' information but said he was "holding the Cardinals responsible for his conduct."
Manfred ruled that the Astros had "suffered material harm as a result of Mr. Correa's conduct."
The Cardinals fired Correa in 2015 after their own internal investigation. He will be placed on the "permanently ineligible list" effective immediately on orders of Manfred.
"We respect the Commissioner's decision and appreciate that there is now a final resolution to this matter," Cardinals chairman and CEO William O. DeWitt Jr. said in a statement.
"Commissioner Manfred's findings are fully consistent with our own investigation's conclusion that this activity was isolated to a single individual."
On Jan. 8, 2016, Correa pleaded guilty in federal court to five counts of unauthorized access of a protected computer for intruding into the Astros' email system and analytical scouting database in 2013 and 2014, following an FBI investigation.
A year ago, the court sentenced Correa to 46 months in federal prison and ordered him to pay the Astros $279,038.65 as restitution.
"This has been a long and challenging process for all of us, especially those within our baseball operations department," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. "We have learned a great deal along the way and we have taken additional steps to ensure that something like this doesn't ever happen again."
The Astros issued a statement and supported the ruling and penalties.
"This unprecedented award by the Commissioner's Office sends a clear message of the severity of these actions," the Astros' statement said. "Our staff has invested a great deal of time in support of the government, legal and league investigations and are pleased to have closure on this issue."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)