WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. federal prosecutors are investigating the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team for hacking into the computers of the Houston Astros to steal closely guarded information about player personnel, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
Compromised information includes internal discussions about trades, proprietary statistics and scouting reports, the Times reported, citing law enforcement officials.
There is evidence that officials of the Cardinals, who won the 2006 and 2011 World Series and are one of the sport’s most respected franchises, broke into a network of special databases, the report said.
“Major League Baseball has been aware of and has fully cooperated with the federal investigation into the illegal breach of the Astros’ baseball operations database,” MLB said in a statement.
“Once the investigative process has been completed by federal law enforcement officials, we will evaluate the next steps and will make decisions promptly.”
The Cardinals, who own a league-best 42-21 record this season, have won the World Series 11 times, second only to the New York Yankees. They have reached “the Fall Classic” 19 times, most recently in 2013 when they lost to the Boston Red Sox.
According to the Times, authorities believe the hacking was performed by front-office employees hoping to undermine the work of Houston General Manager Jeff Luhnow, an innovative former Cardinals executive who left in late 2011 to join the Astros.
The Cardinals said they have “fully cooperated with the investigation and will continue to do so.”
Tracing the breach led the FBI to a home that “some Cardinals officials lived in,” the Times reported.
There was no word on which Cardinals employees were the focus of the investigation or whether the team’s highest-ranking officials were aware of the hacking or authorized it.
The Houston office of the FBI would neither confirm nor deny an investigation, but said: “The FBI aggressively investigates all potential threats to public and private sector systems.”
“Once our investigations are complete, we pursue all appropriate avenues to hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace,” it said.
The Astros, who have never won the World Series, initially believed they were breached by a rogue hacker. The club, currently in first place in the American League West, said it is “actively cooperating” with the investigation.
Houston and St. Louis were National League division rivals from 1994 to 2012 before the Astros jumped to the American League.
Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington, addtional reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago, and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Scott Malone and Lisa Lambert