ST. LOUIS -- In his first public comments since the Commissioner's Office announced that the Cardinals must give two Draft picks and $2 million to the Astros as reparations for an employee's unlawful actions, general manager John Mozeliak said that he accepts Major League Baseball's punishment and is looking forward to putting the incident behind him.
It has been almost two years since the Cardinals first learned that they were under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Justice Department for accessing Houston's private database, and they anticipated forthcoming punishment from MLB after former baseball operations employee Christopher Correa pleaded guilty to five criminal charges last January.
The Cardinals dismissed Correa in July 2015 after learning of his involvement and were confident that MLB would find, just as the Justice Department had, that Correa acted alone in accessing proprietary information belonging to another team.
"I certainly think that the organization, even though we didn't do anything wrong, we understand that the Commissioner had to make a decision, and that ruling obviously affects us as we currently stand," Mozeliak said. "I think his message is this can't happen again, and therefore, the penalty did have to be stiff."
Mozeliak, who answered questions for around 13 minutes on Monday, described Correa as a "rogue" employee, and noted that Correa's actions were "completely inappropriate, unlawful and should not, in any way, be tolerated." Mozeliak reiterated that he is unaware of any instance in which Correa shared information gleaned from accessing the Astros' database with other Cardinals employees.
Mozeliak declined to comment on whether he felt the penalties were commensurate to the organization's actions, saying only that he respected the Commissioner's decision.
"You'd certainly rather not be here having this discussion and having to defend what's happened," Mozeliak said. "You look at his actions and what it led to, and it's certainly not positive for anybody involved. If you could hit the reset button and redo history, you'd certainly try. But unfortunately, we can't."
The Office of the Commissioner acted without precedent in determining an appropriate punishment for the Cardinals. MLB acknowledged that the Astros suffered "competitive harm" as a result of Correa's actions, and that is why Houston will receive financial compensation and the Cardinals' forfeited Draft picks.
In losing the 56th and 75th overall selections in the 2017 MLB Draft, the Cardinals won't make their first pick until No. 94. The loss of selections also costs the club critical bonus pool money.
"When you think about the success of this organization, we've been, candidly, defined by how well we've drafted," Mozeliak said. "So losing the opportunity to draft someone in the second round or [using] the Competitive Balance pick, it hurts. But rather than focus solely on the penalty right now, I think we have to, as an organization, just understand that we have to deal with it, accept it and move to the future."
The Cardinals did not have a first-round Draft pick to lose since that one had already been forfeited with the December signing of Dexter Fowler, who had rejected a qualifying offer from the Cubs. Mozeliak said the team's willingness to give up a selection to sign Fowler was not related to the expectation that it might be docked Draft picks anyway.
Mozeliak said he has reached out to Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and owner Jim Crane to apologize on behalf of the organization. The Cardinals have also increased security on their own internal database in an effort to prevent themselves from becoming victims of a similar breach.
"Clearly, I think one of the things that we do feel is positive from today is the closure and being able to move forward," Mozeliak said. "Obviously, I was embarrassed for what happened. Certainly, when I look back on it, it's not something we'll ever be proud of. It is disappointing it happened."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.