Ex-MLB player Yasiel Puig to plead guilty in gambling case

Braves are signing Yasiel Puig
Getty Images
0 Comments

LOS ANGELES – Former Major League Baseball outfielder Yasiel Puig will plead guilty to lying to federal agents investigating an illegal gambling operation, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday.

Court documents unsealed Monday say Yasiel Puig Valdes, 31, has agreed to plead guilty to one count of making false statements and after pleading guilty, he could face up to five years in federal prison. He also agreed to pay a fine of at least $55,000.

Puig batted .277 with 132 home runs and 415 RBIs while appearing in seven major league seasons, the first six with the Dodgers where he earned an All-Star selection in 2014.

He played for the Cincinnati Reds and the Cleveland Indians in 2019 before becoming a free agent. He then played in the Mexican League and last year he signed a one-year, $1 million contact with South Korea’s Kiwoom Heroes.

In an August plea agreement, Puig acknowledged that over only a few months in 2019 he wracked up more than $280,000 in losses while wagering on tennis, football and basketball games through a third party who worked for an illegal gambling operation run by Wayne Nix, a former minor league baseball player.

Puig placed at least 900 bets through Nix-controlled betting websites and through a man who worked for Nix, authorities said.

In his plea agreement, Puig acknowledged lying in January to federal investigators who were looking into the business, denying he had placed bets through the operation.

Nix pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to operate an illegal sports gambling business and filing a false tax return. Prosecutors said Nix’s operation ran for two decades and included both current and former professional athletes as clients or employees.

Federal prosecutors also announced Monday that another former MLB player, Erik Kristian Hiljus, 49, of Los Angeles, had agreed to plead guilty to two counts of subscribing to false tax returns. They said he was an agent for Nix’s operation.

Hiljus was drafted by the New York Mets in 1991 but made his major league debut in 1999 with the Detroit Tigers. He also played for the Oakland Athletics in 2001 and 2002. He pitched 124 innings in four seasons, going 8-3 with a 4.72 career ERA.

Hiljus could face up to six years in federal prison at sentencing.

Source: Aaron Judge, Yankees reach $360M, 9-year deal

0 Comments

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Aaron Judge has agreed to return to the New York Yankees on a $360 million, nine-year contract, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday because the deal had not been announced.

Judge will earn $40 million per season, the highest average annual payout for a position player. The contract trails only Mike Trout’s $426.5 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels and Mookie Betts’ $365 million pact with the Los Angeles Dodgers for biggest in baseball history.

Judge was offered a long-term deal by New York before last season that was worth $213.5 million over seven years from 2023-29. But he turned it down in the hours before opening day in April.

The 6-foot-7 Judge bet on himself — and won.

Judge set an American League record with 62 homers in 2022, powering the Yankees to the AL East title. He also tied for the major league lead with 131 RBIs and just missed a Triple Crown with a .311 batting average.

New York was swept by Houston in the AL Championship Series, but Judge became the first AL MVP for the Yankees since Alex Rodriguez in 2007.

Judge, 30, was selected by New York in the first round of the 2013 amateur draft and made his big league debut in 2016, homering in his first at-bat.

A year later, he was one of baseball’s breakout stars. He hit .284 with 52 homers and 114 RBIs in 2017, winning the AL Rookie of the Year award. The four-time All-Star has 220 homers and 497 RBIs in seven big league seasons.