Fairly hefty penalty handed down by MLB. Cardinals give Astros first two draft picks in the next draft and 2 million cash.
The actual employee has already plead guilty and was sentenced to 46 months in prison and restitution of just under $280,000. There was apparently no link between the employee and others in the Cardinals organization but MLB found them vicariously liable.
Yeah, it's a really harsh penalty. Beyond the cash and picks that are lost, it also takes a huge chunk out of the Cardinals signing bonus pool. For those that don't know, MLB has slot values for each draftees signing bonus (in the first ten rounds). However, teams can distribute these bonuses amongst draftees in whatever way they successfully negotiate. So say your 1st round pick has a slot value of $2 million -- if you get him to take $1.5 million, you can spend that $500k amongst lower drafted players. Because many baseball draftees have the option of going to college instead of entering the pros, there is quite a bit of leverage for top prospects.
This penalty costs the Cardinals $1.8 million of their $3.9 million pool, or nearly 50%. Their pool is now about $2.1 million. The next lowest team has $3.6 million (Cleveland). Every other team is double St. Louis, and most have 3-5x more to spend. This will really impair the Cardinals from taking top prospects that slide in the draft due to signability concerns -- everyone will have to be pretty safe bets. It will impact their entire draft, not just the first two rounds.